At Lufthansa it is evidently becoming a problem that travel agents do not pass on changes to flight times or short-term cancellations to customers. Lufthansa is liable, however, because intermediaries and travel agencies are to be viewed as so-called vicarious agents.
It was a long time ago, but there were times when tickets could only be bought over the phone or at airline counters or in their city offices. Alternatively, it was possible to book in almost every travel agency. In the past, there were even commissions for brokering. In the meantime, indirect sales have become a thorn in the side of many airlines, because there are not only travel agencies who are keen to attract customers, but also black sheep. Ryanair has long been in constant clinic with so-called online travel agents.
The problem is that intermediaries often do not pass on contact details such as the e-mail address or telephone number of the passengers to the airline. Thus, information from the airline goes to the travel agency or agent. With OTAs in particular, it is more the rule than the exception that changes in flight times or cancellations are not passed on to passengers at all or only with considerable delays.
This can cause massive problems for travelers, because in the worst case they are at the airport and the flight has already taken off or will not take place at all. However, airlines are responsible for ensuring that the information actually reaches the passengers. Failures by intermediaries are attributed to the airlines, as they are to be viewed as vicarious agents. Similar to when you order something from an online shop and the parcel delivery man throws the package through the toilet window and lands a pinpoint landing directly in the toilet bowl. The online retailer is liable for this.
According to a report by Touristik Aktuell, Lufthansa is now taking brokers and travel agencies to the chest and changing the booking guidelines. On the basis of IATA guideline 830d, all agencies are required to actively ask their customers whether the airline's contact details may be made available. Specifically, this means telephone number and / or email address.
This change can also have consequences for passengers, because if a travel agency does not pass on the contact details to the airline at the customer's request and the agency fails to inform the traveler of changes, liability will change in the future. Since the non-disclosure was made at the explicit request of the customer, airlines are no longer liable for information passed on by intermediaries. The result: Any claims for damages against the airline can be omitted.
In the case of long-term flight schedule changes, travel agencies must always inform their customers for contractual reasons. If this is not done and the traveler incurs costs as a result, Lufthansa intends to refer claims for damages to the agency in the future or to take recourse against them.