Comment: Advance payment of airline tickets should be abolished
Dusseldorf Latin students learn the translation of “creditum” early on: “that entrusted to us in good faith”. Credit, as financiers and creditors deduce from this, is a matter of trust.
This connection seems surprisingly foreign to managers of airlines such as Lufthansa, Eurowings, KLM or Easyjet. For weeks they have been canceling thousands of flights after the airlines have been selling services that they cannot provide due to a lack of capacity.
In addition to the annoyance about the cancellation, there is another one for the prevented passengers: Because tickets have to be paid for in full when booking – and thus often weeks before the start of the trip – air travelers always provide the airlines with interest-free loans.
If thousands of flights are canceled, as was the case this summer, it usually takes more effort to recover the personal loan from Lufthansa and Co.
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In the recent past, this has sometimes even been unsuccessful. Air travelers who bought tickets from Air Berlin at the end of 2017 went away empty handed after the bankruptcy of Germany’s second largest airline. Unlike prepayments for package tours, advance payments for flights are by no means protected against the consequences of insolvency.
Airlines should refrain from paying in advance
The legislature should have intervened right from the start of the corona pandemic, when even state-supported aviation companies such as Lufthansa took months to make repayments. But now that the airlines are fully responsible for the chaos in German flight operations, the federal government should act: the principle of ticket prepayments practiced by airlines must be ended.
Federal Minister of Transport Volker Wissing and Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann would be sure to provide support. For a long time now, the Federation of German Consumer Organizations has been demanding that the price for flights is only due at the time of departure. The travel agency association VUSR also recently called on the airlines to “voluntarily waive” prepayment.
Even the Berlin cabinet is skeptical about paying in advance. “If airlines really don’t meet their obligations on a large scale,” said Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke in a recent interview, one has to think about the point “of paying for flights in advance”. Acting is better than thinking.
More: Corporations are mobilizing against the advance payment model for flight tickets