(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.
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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Who the hell cares? Is a soldier a godlike creature who has more rights than the people he is working for and gets paid for? People should start understanding that victims of war are those deserving help, no matter from where, color or religion. This guy gets as much simpathy for this, as every teacher, every tax payer, every average Joe.
Sure. Which should be a decent amount of sympathy, right?
The opine of a third class douchbag.
You loose credibility when you know it’s a Lufthansa operating flight and you report it as United cancelled the flight ….
Sorry, what was canceled? The ticket or the flight? If he had a valid ticket and LH canceled the flight he would have been rebooked automatically by LH.
If UA canceled the ticket it‘s a different thing but the story sounds strange. My guess would be he made a reservation but the payment didn‘t go through without him noticing and than the reservation was canceled automatically. Strange one….
It’s unclear to me what exactly happened. I looked through flightaware.com and it seemed like all of the LH FRA-DTW flights recently have operated without cancellations
@NIL, You’ve hit the nil right on the head mate, get it, hit the Nil… ha ha… LOL, it’s Christmas time, seriously, you’ve nailed it
A click bait if I ever saw one lol
What part of this is clickbait? Did United not cancel a soldier’s flight? Did he not pay thousands of dollars to come home for Christmas?
How can United cancel a Lufthansa flight? Apparently the author doesn’t know the difference between a ticket and a flight.
No, United didn’t cancel a soldier’s flight. Lufthansa did. That part alone is misrepresentation; not even the Detroit Free Press got that wrong.
And as an aviation guy, you should know better when reading a story where so little makes sense. Agree this is total clickbait.
I had a similar problem with the United Award ticket (business class) that was for flights on ANA on 12/21/18. I booked on 12/3 and ticketed all fine by United with ticket number and I was able to assign seats on ANA website as well. I showed up at the airport and ANA can’t find the ticket. I called Mileage Plus and they were of no help either (trying to reroute me with a schedule that doesn’t work for me), so I had to buy a last minute business class ticket back to the US. Still working out compensation with United. Still unclear why the ticket was canceled (no notification at all – email or phone). After I landed, United refunded my award ticket also and redeposited the miles despite me tell them to leave the reservation alone (I am not sure what is left of the PNR when I work with them on the claim). Anyone has suggestions on how to approach? I filed a complint with United and they offer a $500 voucher when the ticket is $8000. I still don’t know if there is some issues with the ticket, why don’t they notify the passenger earlier.
The story is lacking all kinds of information. It should not be reported at all. Throwing blame on United or any airline borders on slander since nobody knows what happened.
What happened to accurate reporting?
THIS IS NO LONGER EVEN A STORY. United has reimbursed him for the price he paid for his ticket home and is flying him back to Germany for free on Jan 2.
Oh you mean due to the publicity from stories like this, United actually did the right thing and took care of this soldier / passenger?
That he is a soldier getting paid to do his job that he chose is of no relevance.
I’ve never heard of a flight cancelled due to raised rates. Doesn’t make much sense. Once a confirmed ticket is confirmed it’s done. Seems fishy at best. Perhaps a schedule change? That seems Moreno palatable and that does occur. Or perhaps like Fan mentioned, his payment didn’t go through or rejected
Well… in my mind at least there’s a bit of difference between a soldier being stationed overseas and a random traveler / ex-pat.
Yes, that all was his choice, but as others have said, the story on the surface wouldn’t be right if it were soldier, teacher, or bum.
I agree with you that something does not sound right and I am slightly curious as to what exactly happened.
there are thousands hundreds of cancellations. You should also mention them, not just the one with this soldier.
The true fun of this story happens once he gets back to his unit. His family going public with this and resulting free travel … potentially based on his status as a Soldier … has the potential to garner a lot of attention from his chain of command.
Did he have a purchased ticket or a reservation but not yet purchased seat when he submitted his leave request? Where are his confirmation emails?
Yes – there are still questions that I at least have. I doubt that he was doing anything illegal or going AWOL or anything like that (otherwise why would his family have gone to the Detroit Free Press in the first place?) But still, he may not like the attention (or ribbing) that he’s likely to get when he gets back to his unit.