Lufthansa’s Counterintuitive, Convoluted Check-In Process

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Hello from home! I just flew from Geneva to Frankfurt to Hong Kong, and I have to say that the online check-in process has been the worst I have ever experienced. Normally I like being checked in early, but this is the first time online check-in has ever left me worried.

img_5483Lufthansa Airbus A380 Frankfurt Airport

I don’t know where to start, so let me try to recap the experience as best as I can…

Losing Seats in Intra-Europe Business Class

About a week before departure, Lufthansa decided to take row 12 off business class for our flight from Geneva to Frankfurt. This didn’t just leave us off row 12 and dispersed, it actually left us without seats for the flight. The excuse that the system had was “we are overbooked, seat selection is not available”. I made a post shortly afterward suggesting that you book as far forward as you can if you’re seated in intra-Europe business class.

This left us doubting that we’d even be able to leave Geneva despite confirming our tickets half a year prior.


Crap Online Customer Service

I went on ExpertFlyer and had a look at the seatmap, and saw that row 3 was blocked. Given that we didn’t even have seats to start with, I tried to chat up Lufthansa to unblock row 3 for us. I wasn’t expecting a yes, though I don’t think I was being unreasonable.


I tried to chat them up, as there was an “Online Chat” function. Unfortunately nothing seemed to come out of it, even when I asked them to unblock some seats so we could actually be guaranteed seats on the aircraft.


I then called their Hong Kong call center, and the call went a little like this:

Me: Hello, is this Lufthansa? I’m flying to Geneva to Frankfurt on February 4th, and we can’t seem to select seats on the site.
Agent: Sort it out at the airport.
Me: Would it be okay to unblock row 3 so our family could sit together, given that all other seats are taken?
Agent: (rude) I said sort it out at the airport, I can’t help you.

I called again, and the same guy answered, so I gave up.

Everyone gets seats…except the 9-year-old

I decided to do online check-in on Friday anyway, to see if we could do anything about the seat selection. I wasn’t hoping for much, but at least I was looking for four seats, even if they weren’t together.

Soon, our seats showed up – 6A, 6D and 6F. There was one catch – my sister was also given seat 6D, and shortly after that error was made, my sister was put on waitlisting.


My sister’s turning 10 on Thursday, so she’s really not that old, definitely not old enough to navigate around Geneva Airport on her own – let alone being waitlisted with zero certainty.


Hailey’s long-haul seat disappears

Up until now, I had reserved seats in the back cabin of Lufthansa’s A380 in business class from Frankfurt to Hong Kong. However, when we checked in, that seat was also gone from the boarding pass. Not only that, but the seat was “released” – it was open to choice for anyone who wanted to check in and hadn’t selected their seat yet. This was really ridiculous – the twist of the knife had to be that it was happening to Hailey out of all people.


Passenger Details…

We then had to enter passenger details (apart from those who had entered in advance passenger information, though there were some things that we had to make sure were right). Upon every misclick, we had to restart the entire process over again – how counterintuitive is that?!? We also had to state that we were “nationals of destination country”, and for the first time that I remember, we had to state that our passports were biometric – hell, I didn’t even know what that meant until I clicked on the “help” button.

Talking to Lufthansa’s French call center…

I rang up Lufthansa’s French call center, and was helped by a friendly man who said that only the airport would be able to help regarding the Geneva to Frankfurt leg. He opened up the Frankfurt to Hong Kong leg from “airport control” for me – while I do appreciate his efforts, nothing happened at all. He also referred me to another number, which was Lufthansa’s ground services, I believe. The ground services department was clueless and referred me right back to Lufthansa’s call center.

I rang up Lufthansa’s call center, and a different agent replied – he tried to secure 24H back to Hailey, and unfortunately he got an error message (something related to airport control). He then realised that Lufthansa’s system was rigged, and Hailey’s seat was actually confirmed to be hers – while it showed as open, whoever booked the seat would come to an error message. He also said that seats would be guaranteed on the Geneva to Frankfurt leg, but they wouldn’t be the seats we booked (phew…but duh).

a man with his hand on his face

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, we managed to switch back into a single row on the Geneva to Frankfurt leg, which was only an hour, so wasn’t that much of a big deal. We also managed to get the seats that I had marked in the first place for the Frankfurt to Hong Kong leg. But boy, does their check-in system need some updates.

At least the check-in process wasn’t reflective of what we were presented onboard…

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