Travels are exciting, but also can be stressful. A San Rafael couple was having a nice vacation overseas when they realized they had no way to get home.
San Rafael residents Larry Boyd and Tom Koerber were enjoying a week-long vacation in Italy.
"Went to the Vatican and saw the Sistine Chapel," Boyd said.
"Just eating all the wonderful food, going into small restaurants," Koerber said.
"We walked everywhere," Boyd said.
They were blissfully unaware a crisis was brewing that could strand them in Europe.
"It was rather difficult, we got scared actually," Boyd said.
On their last night in Rome, they went online to print their boarding passes, and found Lufthansa Airlines had canceled their flight home. They didn't know why their flight was canceled and couldn't get ahold of anyone at Lufthansa.
The reason was the workers at Lufthansa were on strike.
"It had been going on the whole time we were in Rome and Florence," Boyd said.
The strike lasted for a week in November, stranding a half million passengers and they were all scrambling for alternative flights. Tens of thousands of people were trying to get out.
Koerber and Boyd managed to find two seats on British Airways, but they cost $2,100 each. When they got home, they demanded a refund from Lufthansa.
"You're assigned a tracking number and that's it," Boyd said.
When the airline didn't respond, they contacted 7 On Your Side and we asked Lufthansa about their claim. Right away the airline refunded them for the unused return flight plus $600 for expenses.
The airline said it did not refund their British Airways ticket because they did not re-book through Lufthansa as required by its policy.
Koerber and Boyd said that was impossible during the strike.
"We were given the check and apology, and it was very nice to receive that," Boyd said.
European rules say airlines must reimburse passengers for canceled flights and expenses. however there are exceptions for "extraordinary circumstances" -- including strikes.
Click here for information on European passenger rights.
Click here for a form to lodge a complaint with an airline.
Click here for information on European laws and documents
7 On Your Side: Couple forced to pay high cost for airline ticket
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