I traveled to Russia. My visa was expired. Now Luftansa wants me to pay their penalties.

34 posts in this topic

As the title suggest, I traveled to Russia... I was dumb enough to do it without checking my Russian Entry Visa.  I had a Russian Entry Visa that was valid for almost 3 years.  I had noticed, in the past, that airlines usually check when you fly to Russia (before you get on the plane) to make sure you have a valid visa.  Lufthansa does not check.  I arrive in Russia.  They naturally notice my Russian Entry Visa is expired.  They charge me a fine and send my home. 

Then I get a letter from Lufthansa.  That they want me to pay them 800€ to cover the fines they had to pay Russia.  They say it's in the fine print of my ticket contract that it's my responsibility to pay their fines.  Is it actually my responsibility (let's assume it's actually in the contract of my ticket purchase)?  My question is if it's actually legally valid/binding.  All kinds of stuff makes it into American contracts that isn't actually legally binding.  If I'm not obligated to pay them, how to I address it with them? 

 

Thanks ahead of time!  

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49 minutes ago, ewalberg said:

let's assume

 

Never assume, it spells: ass u me ;)

 

Quote

...My question is if it's actually legally valid/binding...

 

 

...knowing Germans, it probably is legally binding but you could try consulting a lawyer or maybe Verbraucherschutz.

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1 hour ago, ewalberg said:

...they want me to pay them 800€ to cover the fines...

 

Dunno the answer to your question. But you should know how much the actual fine was and how much is administration fee added by Lufthansa. I would be loath to pay admin charges on top of their fine. Would surprise me if Lufthansa were not insured against this.

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1 minute ago, optimista said:

 

Dunno the answer to your question. But you should know how much the actual fine was and how much is administration fee added by Lufthansa. I would be loath to pay admin charges on top of their fine. Would surprise me if Lufthansa were not insured against this.

 

@optimista... ever the optimist ;) 

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Lufthansa checked my visa to Nigeria and Azerbaijan and Air France checked my visa to Algeria, so they do perform checks.

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Count yourself lucky that it´s only € 800. South Africa charges 10 times as much.- (unless you fly with their state carrier).

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Whilst Im not a lawyer, and in any case Im not too sure which countries rules would apply (presumably germany as its a contract between you and lufthansa, but its not impossible that russian rules are onlso somehow in play), however I do have immediate family and a few close friends who work in travel and flight stuff.  My understanding is that it is the person travelling who is responsible for ensuring that they have all the correct visas etc but that the carrier bringing someone into a country without the correct paperwork is obliged to take them away again but may charge you for it. For this reason airlines tend to be a bit paranoid about checking paperwork and will always pass on the fees.

 

Long story short, unless I have been very much mislead you are in the frame to pay.  Sorry, but thems the breaks.

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13 hours ago, fraufruit said:

Why should they pay?

 

Absolutely not my topic of expertise, but it seems that the OP was fined for the mistake and Lufthansa were fined separately for theirs. I think it's a bit cheeky for Lufthansa (all airlines?) to pass their mistake on to the passenger.

 

The passenger was deemed at fault and has paid a fine for it. It would seem that the authorities also deem the airline (at least partly) are at fault and have fined them too. I would say it's unfair for them to simply pass that on to the passenger. The airline should have made the appropriate checks, or whatever. They did something wrong apparently.

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10 hours ago, zwiebelfisch said:

Whilst Im not a lawyer, and in any case Im not too sure which countries rules would apply (presumably germany as its a contract between you and lufthansa, but its not impossible that russian rules are onlso somehow in play), however I do have immediate family and a few close friends who work in travel and flight stuff.  My understanding is that it is the person travelling who is responsible for ensuring that they have all the correct visas etc but that the carrier bringing someone into a country without the correct paperwork is obliged to take them away again but may charge you for it. For this reason airlines tend to be a bit paranoid about checking paperwork and will always pass on the fees.

 

 

 

This is also my understanding.

 

However, I also believe that the airline is mandated by some countries to check documentation before allowing a passenger to board.  This is therefore why the airline gets a fine.

 

Therefore if I was you, I would argue this point and state that the ground personal failed to perform any checks on your documentation and therefore you are not responsible for their failure to perform such mandated and legally required actions.

 

A couple of links;

 

https://info.viselio.com/checking-documents-mandatory-airlines/

 

https://airlines.iata.org/analysis/document-verification-travel-trouble

 

In the end, I think you might need a lawyer and fight it.  But you can try.

 

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Gman and dj, now it makes sense and probably is worth arguing. It is the airline's fine for not doing their job. The OP already paid his/her fine.

Thanks.

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I checked Lufthansa's General Conditions of Carriage and this is what it says (on page 15 of the linked PDF):

 

5c46de1ae8548_lufthansagcc.JPG.09b6a184d

 

In 13.1.1., they also state that you are responsible for obtaining all required travel documents and visas.

 

Based on that, I don't think the chances of a court challenge would be very good - even if you could find a(n English-speaking) lawyer who was willing to take on a case with the relatively low Streitwert of EUR 800.00. And consider that if you lost, you'd have to pay the lawyer's fees on both sides (and would have to pay your own lawyer even if they split the verdict).

 

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There was a similar case in the news. The passenger refused to reimburse Lufthansa  and Lufthansa sued. The first instance agreed with Lufthansa, but the BGH argued that Lufthansa is partially at fault since they should have checked the visa. I believe the judicial proceedings to determine the severity of the fault of the passenger and airline (and hence the decision of the percentage of the fee each party has to pay) is still pending.

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1 hour ago, El Jeffo said:

I checked Lufthansa's General Conditions of Carriage and this is what it says (on page 15 of the linked PDF):

 

5c46de1ae8548_lufthansagcc.JPG.09b6a184d

 

In 13.1.1., they also state that you are responsible for obtaining all required travel documents and visas.

 

Based on that, I don't think the chances of a court challenge would be very good - even if you could find a(n English-speaking) lawyer who was willing to take on a case with the relatively low Streitwert of EUR 800.00. And consider that if you lost, you'd have to pay the lawyer's fees on both sides (and would have to pay your own lawyer even if they split the verdict).

 

 

Good points.  But then the question becomes at what point is it worthwhile for Lufthansa to pursue this?

 

It would cost them probably thousands of Euros for internal admin to handle this.

Sometimes they sue a few times (as per @vronchen post), to 'scare' others into not disputing. But would they pursue every case for a few hundred euros?

 

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29 minutes ago, dj_jay_smith said:

 

Good points.  But then the question becomes at what point is it worthwhile for Lufthansa to pursue this?

 

It would cost them probably thousands of Euros for internal admin to handle this.

Sometimes they sue a few times (as per @vronchen post), to 'scare' others into not disputing. But would they pursue every case for a few hundred euros?

 

That depends on how automated their processes are. I think the scare factor (as you call it) will certainly be part of their decision equation, however.

 

In any case, if the OP chooses not to pay, they'll probably pass it on to a collection agency at some point, when it will have to be disputed at the court level anyway. S/he certainly won't be able to fly Lufthansa (or any of their subsidiaries) again, ever, without them confiscating the payment to pay the outstanding charges and fees. Not sure how much of a loss that will be.

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One would think that a company like Lufthansa has several lawyers on the payroll so it wouldn't cost them any extra to pursue this.

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20 minutes ago, fraufruit said:

One would think that a company like Lufthansa has several lawyers on the payroll so it wouldn't cost them any extra to pursue this.

 

It depends on how you look at it.

 

If this is the case then they wouldn't need to hire external lawyers to deal with this.  But their staff still needs paying, and the more work they have the more staff they need and the higher their costs.  

 

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