Last updated: 05:14 PM ET, Thu June 04 2015

Lufthansa Fined $31K for 'Unfair Trade Practices' Over Lie-Flat Seat

Airlines & Airports | Patrick Clarke | June 04, 2015

Lufthansa Fined $31K for 'Unfair Trade Practices' Over Lie-Flat Seat

German airline Lufthansa has been slapped with a fine totaling more than $31,000 (20 lakh rupees) all because of a difference of opinion on the meaning of the word flat.

According to Baishali Adak of India's Mail Today, business class passenger Vivek Talwar claimed that he was inconvenienced by a lie-flat seat that only partially reclined on his flight from Mumbai to Dallas back in September 2008. 

Talwar argued that he was not able to fall asleep on the semi-reclined chair and filed a complaint.

Lufthansa, however, argued that a lieflat seat is different from a fully flat one or a lie-flat bed. Despite their assertions, Lufthansa was recently ordered by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission to refund Talwar's $780 (50,000 rupees) airfare and $156 (10,000 rupees) litigation expenses on top of paying a $31,260 fine.

According to Mail Today, the commission ruled that "Lufthansa was clearly deficient in rendering services to the petitioner."

"Had it been disclosed to the complainant that the seats in the business class of their aircraft were semi-reclined and not fully reclined, he might have chosen some other airline," they concluded. 

"Any statement which falsely represents that the service are (sic) of a particular standard, quality or grade, amounts to unfair trade practices," said Justice V.K. Jain via Mail Today.

Jain said the airline has six weeks to deposit the fine with the consumer welfare fund. 

Lufthansa plans to fight the commission's ruling, though, according to a statement emailed to Mail Today. "We have received the court order and we will be filing an appeal as we feel certain facts of the case were not considered," said the airline. "We are committed to delivering excellent services at all times and passenger convenience and comfort are top priority for us."


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