Lufthansa stranded my 16-year-old son in Detroit

Carolina Smith/Shutterstock
Carolina Smith/Shutterstock
It’s something out of every mother’s worst nightmare: Your child is stranded at the airport and won’t be able to fly home unless he forks over thousands of dollars for a new ticket.

That nightmare came true for Gloria Castillo-Ibrahim and her 16-year-old son, Kareem Amir Gharib, recently. They’re inexperienced air travelers, but in a way, nothing could have prepared them for the trouble they experienced.

Castillo-Ibrahim wants me to help her fix this problem, but I’m not really sure if I can, or if I should. Your thoughts on this case would be helpful.

The problem began when Castillo-Ibrahim’s husband decided to surprise her son for Christmas by booking two roundtrip tickets from Cairo to Detroit on Lufthansa’s website.
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How much does my airline owe me for a broken seat?

lufthansaElite-level frequent travelers who whine if their lie-flat business seat doesn’t recline all the way are regularly and shamelessly mocked on this site.

I typically have little sympathy for entitled crybabies who can’t lean all the way back, while the folks in economy class are wedged into their seats and can barely move. It’s particularly irritating when it turns out these platinum-plated complainers either didn’t pay for the ticket themselves, footing the bill with their employer’s money, or got to it by unethically “hacking” the system.

So when Andrew Buffen came to me with a problem with reclining seats on a Lufthansa codeshare flight from Chicago to Frankfurt, I almost reflexively sent it to the “case dismissed” file.
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Did Lufthansa “steal” her laptop computer?

lufthansaStacey Tappan claims Lufthansa stole her laptop computer, and she wants me to help her get it back.

Before I get to her story, let me acknowledge that terms like “stealing” and “theft” can mean different things to people. We’ve seen that in several recent stories, and sometimes, we have to agree to disagree.

But Tappan stretches the definition of stealing, even for me.
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100,000 miles, $194 and a one-week delay — and you offer this?

To fly from San Francisco to Paris last month, Kenneth Cook forked over 100,00 miles and paid a $194 fee 10 months before his scheduled flight. The routing wasn’t ideal — it sent him via Denver and Frankfurt, but for that, he was getting choice seats in the front of the plane.

The least he expected was the see his luggage at the end of the journey, and that if he didn’t, the airline would take care of everything.

It didn’t.
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Airline removed me a because of confusion about medical supplies

Here’s an unusual case with an equally unusual resolution. It involves two airline passengers, a medical device and EU airline passenger law.

Now, before you say, “How exciting!” consider this — while the case may be exceedingly rare, and while this isn’t exactly a blog about medical supplies, the outcome of this medical device mishap could affect you on your next European flight.

So pay attention, you kids in the back of the class. Yeah, you know who I’m talking about.
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The Travel Troubleshooter: Airline won’t refund my ticket after my husband dies

Question: I bought a pair of tickets through Expedia for my husband and myself. We planned to visit Germany this fall for as part of a retirement trip. Shortly after that, my husband passed away very suddenly.

I contacted Expedia about a refund, but was advised to get in touch with our airline, Lufthansa, directly. Lufthansa told me my husband’s ticket was nonrefundable. I asked if they would resell his seat, since he couldn’t make the flight, and they admitted they would.

When I said that it appeared that Lufthansa would profit from the death of my husband, they admitted that that was the case. This really offended me. I tried to send an email to Lufthansa’s president, but they have turned me down. What would you advise?
Ursula Maul, Wynnewood, Pa.

Answer: My condolences on your loss. Most airlines refund tickets – even nonrefundable ones – when a passenger dies. What’s more, it’s highly unusual for a representative to “admit” that the airline will profit from the death of a passenger. Maybe the representative you reached was having a bad day. I certainly hope so.
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Volcano strands couple in Portugal for a week — is this an “extraordinary” circumstance, or what?

Even though EU 261, Europe’s strict consumer law for air travelers, has an exception for what are called “extraordinary” circumstances, Europe’s big carriers made a big deal about not invoking that clause when the cloud of volcanic ash spread across their airspace earlier this month.

Unless you were David Bray, who couldn’t return to Washington from Lisbon, Portugal, via Frankfurt on Lufthansa.

“My wife and I are currently stranded in Portugal,” he wrote to me last Monday. “What’s frustrating is flights are entering and departing Portugal for the U.S., but we’re with Lufthansa and they won’t help with rebooking with another carrier to get back to the U.S.”
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Help! My baggage didn’t make the connection

Question: I am a Marine based in Nicosia, Cyprus. I have a situation, and I am looking for some guidance.

I recently bought tickets from Travelocity for my fiancee, Cara. Her return itinerary had her flying from Cyprus to Athens and then on to Munich on a Lufthansa flight operated by Aegean Airlines.

Her stopover in Athens was 50 minutes, which was not a problem. But when we checked in at Cyprus, she was only given a boarding pass to Athens and was told to pick up another boarding pass in Athens after retrieving her luggage. It didn’t make sense.

To make a long story short, I contacted Travelocity but Cara missed her connection in Athens and had to pay $250 to change her flight, and had to stay in a hotel for the night until the next day, which also wasn’t cheap.

I don’t know if this is just a mix up and we just got the short end of the stick, or if there is something we can do. Any help would be greatly appreciated. — Joshua Smith, Nicosia, Cyprus

Answer: Cara should have been able to check her baggage all the way through to Munich, no questions asked. When you phoned Travelocity, they should have given you a straight answer about why that wasn’t possible and helped you and your fiancee figure out a solution.
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