Lufthansa has said that it processed around 1,800 an hour last week as it battles COVID-19 refunds. The airline shared on September 11th that its refund requests have tripled. To combat delays on further repayments, Lufthansa has changed its processing strategy.
Lufthansa processes 1,800 refunds an hour
While refund processing for Lufthansa has increased, the airline is becoming more adept at handling them. Between August 31st to September 4th, the German carrier refunded around 1,800 repayment requests per hour.
As of Wednesday (September 9th), Lufthansa has managed to return money to 6.3 million of its customers to the tune of €2.7bn. ($3.2bn). Since August 24th, it has completed payment requests for canceled flights and travel plans to 700,000 passengers. In the two and a half week period until September 9th, it has also had to shell out €200,000 ($237,000).
To complete its backlog, Lufthansa must still tackle the processing of another one million refunds. It says that over the past months since the pandemic, its volume of requests has tripled. It now appears to be working with uncompleted refunds that were filed from July. Since some of these requests are more complex, they will take longer to resolve.
How is Lufthansa managing the refund spike?
To combat unprecedented requests for refunds, Lufthansa is employing four tactics to help. They mainly involve bringing on additional staff to manage the backlog. It hopes that these methods will allow it to return money to customers in a more timely manner.
It has three times the amount of staff working in its customer centers and four times more people working in its travel agency sales. The airline has also taken to repurposing other employees. In a statement on its website, the airline confirmed that,
“Numerous employees from other departments have been activated to provide support and have been released from short-time working in return.”
Giving back to the customer
However, as well as working on damage-management, the carrier is also doing its best to prevent further refund requests from arising. By giving its customers more flexibility on their tickets, it can ensure that it works alongside a somewhat fluid travel environment.
On August 25th, Lufthansa had decided to remove its change fees until 2021. This is a pandemic response that is gaining a lot of traction with other airlines across the world. The US’ Big Three airlines have scrapped their change fees with others, like Virgin Atlantic, now following suit.
Lufthansa customers can change their flight as necessity dictates without having to pay a change fee. This will allow passengers to return to the airline without the fear that they could be losing money if plans change. It provides confidence to the customer but also gives Lufthansa a deal of security over a returning demand for its services.
That said, whatever it does, Lufthansa will never be able to ensure that its refunds amount to zero. Beyond the pandemic, there is a whole host of reasons why people will cancel their flights. However, it now has the strategies in place to manage refunds when they do arise.
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