Creative Use? Or Fraud?

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Frequent travelers over on FlyerTalk.com are discussing this issue today:  A German traveler booked a refundable business class ticket and used it to access a business class lounge before changing the ticket instead of flying.

Oh, and he did this 36 times with the same ticket! After doing this with the one ticket over the course of a year, he refunded that ticket (presumably before the limits of it’s rules expired) and purchased another ticket similar to the first.

But Lufthansa had already wised up to the scam and instead refused that ticket, refunded it’s fare to the passenger, and subsequently sent the passenger a bill for the passenger to reimburse them 55 Euros (or roughly $75 US) for each visit.  The passenger refused to pay so it wound up in a Germany court where Lufthansa prevailed.

A similar case made headlines in China a few months ago for even more egregious abuse of a ticket used solely to access a lounge.

While these are extreme incidents, they are not isolated.

If you read frequent flyer message boards or social media groups, suggestions to purchase refundable premium cabin tickets solely for the purpose of using the benefits of a first or business class lounge  are often tossed out by others or even bragged about.  These lounges can often include shower suites, open bars, spa services, and full-service food offerings so for some travelers, they are a tempting promised land.

Some would call this creative use of loopholes that exist in frequent flyer rules.  Others would call it fraud.

Where do you stand?  Does your opinion vary based on frequent versus occasional abuse?  I’d love to hear your comments….

About Jennifer Moody

Jennifer is a management consultant and avid volunteer. Her career and volunteer duty travels have helped her log top-tier airline and hotel status annually for the last eighteen years. In addition, she embraces the opportunity to maximize her vacation time by planning extracurricular trips that have taken her to over 60 countries and 47.5 US states. Although she averages 200 days a year on the road, she loves to return to “the homestead” in her native Fort Worth, Texas where she enjoys cooking, gardening, sewing, needlepoint, wine, and cocktail mixology.

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