Unbelievable: Strike Cancels Virtually All Lufthansa Flights Today

Filed Under: Lufthansa, Unions

Lufthansa’s flight attendant union, UFO, has been on strike since Friday, November 6, 2015. This comes after management and the union just couldn’t come to an agreement regarding a new contract.


On Friday and Saturday we saw many Lufthansa short-haul flights get canceled, including the following:

  • On Friday, all Lufthansa 737 and Airbus A319/320/321 flights to/from Frankfurt/Dusseldorf were canceled between 2PM and 11PM
  • On Saturday, all Lufthansa 737 and Airbus A319/320/321 flights to/from Frankfurt/Dusseldorf were canceled between 6AM and 11PM

Generously the union didn’t go on strike on Sunday and excluded Munich from the strikes on Friday and Saturday, because they didn’t want leisure travelers to get stranded. Via NDTV:

However, Lufthansa’s Munich hub would not be affected at all this weekend, given that there were still school holidays in the southern regional states of Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg, it explained.

In addition, “no industrial action is planned at all on Sunday since most people traveling that day will be doing so in a private capacity,” UFO said.

Well, the strike is back today, and it’s the worst yet, as a vast majority of Lufthansa’s flights are canceled. Per an update posted on Lufthansa’s website:

The Independent Flight Attendant’s Organization (UFO) has announced strike action for all Lufthansa flights from/ to Frankfurt and Dusseldorf on Monday, 9.11.2015 between 4.30 and 23.00 and flights from/to Munich between 4.30 and 00.00.

Flights operated by Lufthansa CityLine, Germanwings, Eurowings, Air Dolomiti, Austrian Airlines, SWISS and Brussels Airlines are not affected by potential strike actions and will therefore run as planned.

Lufthansa will do its utmost to keep the effects of a strike to a minimum and to inform passengers as soon as possible. For that reason, Lufthansa requests all passengers early on to stay up-to-date by checking the flight status on LH.com.

On Monday, out of the approximately 3.000 planned connections about 929 continental and intercontinental flights had to be cancelled. Affected by these cancellations are in total approximately 113.000 passengers.

Lufthansa did publish a special timetable. Nearly all continental and intercontinental flights had to be cancelled. Exceptions are a few flights between Munich and Frankfurt to London Heathrow, Dublin, Ashgabat, Delhi, Hongkong and Tokio.

Whew, at least they spared the flight to Ashgabat! 😉

To recap Monday’s 929 cancelations:

  • Flights to/from Frankfurt and Dusseldorf are canceled between 4:30AM and 11PM
  • Flights to/from Munich are cancelled between 4:30AM and 12AM


A few random frequencies will operate, but aside from that everything is canceled.

This whole strike is just sort of unbelievable to me. We see pilot strikes from Lufthansa all the time (almost one a month, on average), but rarely do they cripple the whole system to this degree. Just canceling everything is mind-blowing. It inconveniences passengers, the flight attendants’ colleagues (gate agents & reservations agents), etc.


Bottom line

We potentially have a few more days of these strikes. As I’ve said before, I respect employees’ rights to collective bargaining, but I just can’t help but wonder what this is accomplishing for anyone.

On the plus side, everyone I’ve heard from has indicated that Lufthansa seems to be willing to rebook passengers on just about any airline at this point, even non-partner airlines. Of course that assumes you can get through to them on the phone, where there might be a hold of several hours.

Have you been impacted by today’s Lufthansa strike? Can anyone help me understand how anyone is better off after this strike?

  1. Lucky: is this not the perfect opportunity for some to make the FCT one’s extended home away from home?

  2. “I just can’t help but wonder what this is accomplishing for anyone”

    It accomplishes a lot for the FAs, and very little for LH management.

    Think of it as a game theory problem. By striking, individual flight attendants risk a few days of pay (if that) and stand to gain substantial benefits (pay raise, etc) if LH caves. In contrast, for every day the FAs strike, LH loses millions. At some point, the amount they project to lose from an extended strike will equal or exceed what they lose by caving to the FAs’ demands. At that point, their rational choice is to give in.

    The equation greatly favors striking for FAs, and capitulation by LH management. My guess is that they will give in very soon. That assumes, though, that they are not playing a longer game, where they expect that the constant disruption of German aviation by these strikes leads to changes in the laws or regulations that remove some of the latitude that FAs and pilots have to strike. If the public blames the FAs, it may actually be in LH’s interest to prolong it.

  3. Yeah, I also had issues with LH strike something like a year ago. I was rebooked on SN and EK (connecting in MXP). Though I was actually trying to call them for a whole day, and didn’t manage to get though to anyone… The “fun” part was that the strike was announced 3 days prior to travel.

    I was checking Expertflyer for possible connections and saw the seats just go away. That was when I decided to hop on a train to the airport and go to the ticketing desk there. I was actually alone and they were very friendly and rebooked us (4 people) in about half an hour. The biggest issue was in fact the “competition”, as simultaneously the phone agents were also booking all the possible flights they could get. And as you can imagine: to find 4 seats just at the start of a holiday period isn’t that easy.

    Fun part was: me and the ticketing agent were looking for flights at the same time and it was a fun “brain-strom session”.

    My point is: while the strikes are annoying. LH is always ready to help and they don’t mind rebooking you on other airlines. But sometimes you just have to thing of other means to reach LH when lines are busy.

  4. i am flying next week from Frankfurt to Singapor with LH in first class. I strongly hope that the strike will be over next week Thursday. In case not, any suggestions how to proceed? thx

  5. I flew FRA-LAX Saturday. Had to sweat all day Friday hoping my flight wouldn’t be cancelled. The flight seemed less than half full though the flight attendants appeared to not have any cares in the world. Monday’s cancellations seem much worse and widespread. This must be terrible for the airline and I cannot see how this kind of industrial action will benefit anyone. Lufthansa’s reputation will be tarnished for a long time.

  6. What always “strikes” me about posts like this is how different things are in the United States — for two reasons.

    First, intermittent strikes are illegal in the US. You’re either on strike or you’re not. You can’t strike every other day, or just on weekdays, or everywhere except Munich. Once you’re out, you’re out.

    And second, any strike at all in the US airline industry is essentially illegal under the Railway Labor Act, which applies to equally to trains and planes. Or, more accurately, striking can be possible but only after exhausting all sorts of mandatory arbitration and cooling-off procedures.

    For anyone who knows anything about labor law in the US, European law looks like some kind frozen time-warp thing from the 1930s.

    Any European lawyer out there want to chime in with a different perspective?

    (Sorry about the pun in the first line; sometimes these posts kind of get away from me . . . .)

  7. Or maybe, from the European perspective, American labor law looks like a time warp from the 1880s.

    Europeans put up with a lot of strikes. They could easily vote in politicians who would make labor law a lot more like it does here, and there would then be much less disruption from strikes. But they don’t. Why? I’m guessing it’s because individual voters don’t want to give up the strong political position of labor, which benefits them directly. In other words, they don’t want to give up their own right to strike.

  8. See, I actually don’t respect the right of most employees to strike. Much like landline telephones, there was a time and place where it was not only useful but critical for society. Now, developed countries have countless regulations to protect employees in general, and constrain how airlines schedule their staff in particular. You’d be hard-pressed to argue that European airline staff are better off than their unionized US equivalents (who cannot strike nearly as easily). Striking against LH (or AF, for that matter) is just going to hasten their bankruptcy; in the case of LH, I doubt they’d get a government bail out that would protect their benefits. How much money do the staff actually expect to get out of LH? Between the ME3 and the LCCs, there really isn’t much to squeeze out of the old european airline model. This just alienates customers and screws over all the other LH employees.

  9. The big question is who is loosing money about that apart of Lufthansa? Everyone who is striking and who’s part of the UFO union will be getting a “strike salary” for each day they are on strike. But whats with pilots and all those who are not in the union and are not able to fly because of the strike? Does Lufthansa need to pay the salary or ar they loosing their income?

  10. Just out of curiosity, does EC 261/2004 apply in the situation of a crew strike? Cus to my understanding strikes that are not under the airline’s control does not qualify for compensation. However there is no mention about airline staff strikes.

  11. Over spring break I flew Lufthansa to Frankfurt then Florence and on the way back almost every Lufthansa flight was cancelled. Our flight from FCO-FRA was good but FRA-DFW got cancelled. We were rebooked on Turkish from IST-IAH!!

  12. LH should prolong the strikes drive public sentiment against the unions and just be done with them. If you want to be a competitive airline you can’t have strikes every month. You want to win and dominate not pvssyfoot back and forth. Choose your side and stick with it. I’m glad I don’t have to count on LH for flights or work as I imagine the stress it would cause thousands of passengers.

  13. Folks who are against unions and collective bargaining remind me of folks who are against vaccines. The one thing the former has over the latter is that “I told you so” moments are significantly less injurious to their health.

  14. I don’t get the title if further it is stated that “approximately 3.000 planned connections about 929 continental and intercontinental flights had to be cancelled”. For its look rather 1 out of 3 flights has been canceled; which still is a lot.

  15. I avoid Lufthansa like the plague……starting 25+ years ago with such rude FAs it was unbelievable to just last year in Business with red wine jus dumped in my lap

    No thanks, keep on striking

  16. More News concerning the current Strike. Not only has the UFO just announced they will strike on all long and medium haul flights on Lufthansa until Friday but the Pilots now fight against the court ruling that stopped their last strike. Until those two unions are satisfied I would go out of my way to avoid flying with Lufthansa. You should expect to have your flight cancelled.
    Sources(in German):

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