I used to be a fan of Lufthansa. In fact, recently, I wrote an article about Lufthansa giving them a positive review for flights I took between Bangkok, Thailand and Kuala Lumpur. But, after running a search for flights on Lufthansa from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur this week, as an American who doesn’t like being scammed, I’ll never fly Lufthansa again, and here’s why.
When I initially ran my search for available flights on Lufthansa’s website, I ran it with my Thailand information and Thai address. I’ve lived in Thailand on and off for several years, so many of my flights originate from Bangkok and, if an airline needs to contact me, my Bangkok address is where they’ll find me.
On my first Lufthansa searches, I couldn’t get flights for the days I needed but, with some manipulation of my schedule, I managed to find flights on alternate dates that would work. (It looks like Lufthansa only flies every other day from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur, as no flights ever come up on ‘every other day’ searches).
Then, I checked the price of the flights and, although more expensive than competitor Air Asia, Lufthansa’s fares fell within my budget. So, I decided to book the flight. I’ve always liked Lufthansa as they allow payment by PayPal so, I booked everything. At the end of the booking, I attempted to change my address from my Thai address to my US address as PayPal requires you to use the address on your account, and that’s when the Lufthansa scam against Americans emerged.
On the flights I needed from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur, the cost of a return flight including tax and all fees was 5,660 baht (or approximately $175). When I tried to enter my US address, the Lufthansa website told me I needed to run the flight search again. I did and came up with the same available flights. But, this time, due to my American address the flight that was $175 with a Thai address was now $203 with a US address. The same flight from the same originating city to the same destination and return. But, whereas a Thai or anyone living in Thailand would pay $175, Lufthansa charges an American $28 more.
Of course, the first question could be the fees for credit card payments are higher for Americans. But that’s not true. Fees are exactly the same for Lufthansa, whether a credit card is used by an American, a Thai or a Chinese-Indian who grew up in Timbuktu. Besides, by my using PayPal, Lufthansa was saving money on my booking as PayPal fees are lower for them than a credit card. Yet, Lufthansa still felt the necessity to charge me $28 more, simply because I’m a US citizen.
I clicked out of Lufthansa’s site and booked a flight on Malaysia Airlines. Sure, I may have ended up paying a bit more but, surprise, Malaysia Airlines charges you the same whether you’re Malaysian, Thai or American – it all just depends on the destination.
Unfortunately, as happy as I’ve been with Lufthansa in the past, they just lost my custom. I’m simply not willing to pay a higher fee for a Lufthansa flight because I have an American passport and neither should any other American citizen.