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(UPDATE: United has reimbursed PFC Jimenez for the ticket he purchased home and is flying him back to his base)

Imagine serving your country in another country, buying a plane ticket home for Christmas, and then showing up to the airport for your transatlantic flight only to find that the airline has canceled the flight and left you stranded. That’s essentially what happened to Pfc. Benjamin Jimenez from Michigan. The Detroit Free Press reports that he purchased a roundtrip ticket from Frankfurt Germany to Detroit Michigan from United Airlines for $1,116 back on November 19th.

Although United sold the ticket, it was a codeshare for a Lufthansa operated flight, which apparently was canceled. According to Jimenez’s aunt, United claims that they sent a notice of the cancellation which was never received by Mr. Jimenez. United said that Lufthansa “decided to increase their rates and cancel the flight”.

I realize that I am hearing this second or third-hand (or worse), but I’m unclear how Lufthansa can just “decide to increase their rates”, at least with respect to United and their codeshare relationship. And why didn’t United rebook him on another flight?

At the airport, with no other options, Mr. Jimenez bought a $2500 one-way ticket and is now stuck in Detroit with no palatable options to get back to Germany before his leave expires.

an airplane parked at an airport

The other side of the story?

Readers of PWaC know that I am generally at least a little bit skeptical of stories like this that get publicized. It seems only too often that the first person (usually the consumer) that shares their story doesn’t always tell the WHOLE story. After all, it’s only human nature to paint yourself in the best possible light.

(SEE ALSO: Delta won’t believe a female African-American is a doctor (yes, again))

(SEE ALSO: AA passenger claimed suitcase was “robbed” – what actually happened was quite different)

But this seems inline with past airline behavior and certainly if the roles were reversed, United would not be owning any part of what was going on.

If this story is even MOSTLY right, it would seem that he has an EU261 claim for a canceled flight. IANAL but a cursory reading of the EU261/2004 legislation states that carriers are required to rebook / reroute cancelled passengers at the “earliest opportunity”.

There is a GoFundMe set up if you’d like to help contribute.

Readers – what do you think? Can anyone shed light on the statement from United about Lufthansa “raising rates”?

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