German leberkas meatloaf and sweet sausages with mustard arbitrage

by on July 7, 2014 at 10:50 am in Economics, Food and Drink, Travel, Uncategorized | Permalink

A man exploited the perks of business-class travel to feast for free 35 times in a year at Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA’s) Munich airport lounge — without ever taking off.

The man used the flexibility of the one-way fare to Zurich to repeatedly reschedule his travel plans after gaining access to food and drink, Munich district court said in a statement. Lufthansa canceled the ticket after more than a year and refunded the price, only for the man to purchase a replacement.

The court ruled that lounge services are provided on the assumption that travelers will seek to fly, and ordered the man to pay Lufthansa 1,980 euros ($2,705), equal to about 55 euros per visit or more than twice the cost of the 744.46-euro ticket. Lufthansa pursued a prosecution only after the man bought the second ticket with the intention of resuming his foraging raids.

Business-class fares typically offer the flexibility to rebook when plans change, while offering perks such as access to premium lounges, conference facilities and showers. The Munich facility at Lufthansa second-biggest hub offers Bavaria’s Loewenbraeu beer on tap, together with local delicacies including leberkas meatloaf and sausages with sweet mustard.

The link is here and for the pointer I thank Hugo Lindgren.  And yes, I know there are various spellings of “leberkas.”

1 Johann July 7, 2014 at 11:38 am

You can bend every contract rule with the good faith clause of the German Civil Code: the judge apparantly did just that.

2 NPW July 7, 2014 at 11:50 am

How is the conntract rule bent? The contract took place in Germany where the good faith clause applies.

Justice has been entirely lost to the lawyers.

3 Kronrod July 7, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Many European countries have such a clause, and it makes sense. It makes the actual intention count and not what you might have accidentally written on paper. Of course, in case of a dispute, you need to be able to make your intentions plausible if they differ from what’s written in the contract. In the end, this leads to a leaner legal system with slimmer contracts and fewer lawyers than in the US or UK.

4 Ken July 7, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Wouldn’t the ability to rewrite or contradict contract terms using an implied good faith provision actually increase the demand for lawyers and litigation? If it’s easier to get out of written contracts by hiring a lawyer to argue about good faith intentions, that should (to this American lawyer), make a lawyer’s services more valuable. Where every detail is ironed out in written language, and that language is (relatively) immutable, there should be less litigation because the parties know the outcome.

This is all conjecture, and not based in actual practice. In the real world, it may be a wash – where the terms can’t change, you hire lawyers to argue how to define the terms; where the terms can change, you hire lawyers to get them changed.

5 John July 7, 2014 at 7:28 pm

This is true if the corpus of law is simple. Unfortunately, over time, the entropy of a system that uses explicit is much more greater than a system that uses implicit. Because there is no good faith, all prior decisions need to be written and can be used in a case. This requires more lawyers.

6 Mark Thorson July 7, 2014 at 8:22 pm

I remember hearing somewhere that Germany is actually much more litigious than the U.S. That surprised me, but it does seem in keeping with certain aspects of the German temperment. I don’t know if that’s really true, though. A Google search is not helpful — it returns a bunch of anecdotal crap of little credibility.

7 Marton July 8, 2014 at 4:04 am

Define “litigious”. In terms of lawyers per capita, the US is twice as high as Germany (380 vs 170 lawyers per 100k people). The spend on lawyers/judiciary is probably twice as high too.

Now the number of small-scale civil lawsuits might be higher in Germany – for instance they usually have a lot more employee protection mandated by labor law, so there’s a lot more opportunity and incentive for stiffed employees to sue their employers.

8 Cliff July 8, 2014 at 12:46 am

Yes, it makes the “actual intention” which is unknowable count over the objective words you wrote down with your team of corporate lawyers. Really, Lufthansa can’t craft a contract that says what they mean?

9 P July 8, 2014 at 8:14 am

I think it’s obvious that Lufthansa never intended to provide food and booze for a year for that guy in exchange for a single plane ticket. Nor do I think that he acted in good faith. I think most courts in Continental EUrope would have made the same decision.

10 Patrick M July 7, 2014 at 11:41 am

The jokes almost write themselves. “I only come here for the sausage.” “That’s what she said.”

11 Larry Siegel July 7, 2014 at 9:47 pm

That was the wurst economics post I’ve read all day.

12 Z July 7, 2014 at 11:56 am

This reminds me of something I witnessed a long time ago. I was renting a car and they had some sort of promotion where you got a free plane ticket if you rented X number of times. I know longer recall the details and I was not interest in it at the time. Another customer, however, was doing it. He figured out a flaw in their promotion. He would rent a car for a weekend, park it across the street and then return it on Monday. The rental costs were a fraction of the cost of the plane tickets.

After talking with him, I came away thinking that there is always someone out there looking for a way to get an edge. The guy in question was a professional and middle-class looking guy. Yet, he invested his time and effort into beating the car company’s promotion.

13 Alise July 7, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Airport parking, airport security… worth the free meal?

14 prior_approval July 7, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Probably not, but the odds are he used the S-Bahn – if he already had a month card, it would not have cost him anything extra anyways.

15 The Engineer July 7, 2014 at 1:36 pm

I think so. Even the domestic US lounges are quite nice. It’s not like you’re dining at Applebees.

Conceivably, you could apply for the “fast pass” through the TSA.

4 hours or less at Chicago O’Hare at the lot in the middle of all the terminals is only $10. I’m sure it is no worse at other airports, Chicago is the king of the parking ripoffs.

I think that this guy is on to something!

16 Art Deco July 7, 2014 at 7:14 pm

What have you got against Applebee’s??

17 wiki July 8, 2014 at 6:50 am

US domestic lounges?? Most are definitely not particularly nice. Not compared to Lufthansa Munich for sure. The US ones can often be overcrowded and all you get are these prepackaged cheese and cracker things with a few other snacks and some drinks. Sometimes a passable cold sandwich. I can’t think of a major dining chain that I wouldn’t prefer over the average US business lounge, except for the value of having a comfortable place to sit with wifi and clean bathrooms while waiting for your plane to take off.

18 Adrian Ratnapala July 7, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Was the title a typo or intentional? The mustard is sweet, not the sausages.

I thought the only correct spelling was “Leberkäs” wheras “Leberkas” is the only pronunciation that I use. I’m also amused by calling it “meatloaf”. Not only does it taste quite different, but it seems redundant. I mean you don’t talk about “spam meatloaf”. Then again, I understand why literal translations like “liver-cheese” might not appeal across borders.

19 Roy July 7, 2014 at 1:32 pm

I almost hate to do this to you Adrian, but my best friend’s brother married a Chamorro.

20 dieter July 7, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Another thing that might not be appealing to Anglos is the fact that the best Leberkas is made of horse meat.

The bavarian edition of Wikipedia has the spelling as “Lebakaas”.

21 dearieme July 7, 2014 at 4:23 pm

I like horse meat. And ‘roo. And everyone who enjoys salami presumably enjoys donkey meat. Also good: snails, froglegs, ……

22 Alan Gunn July 7, 2014 at 2:39 pm

The court’s statement offers an impressive borrowing from English: “One-Way Business Class Flugticket.” At least they didn’t clump all the words together, as German sometimes does.

23 Synapsid July 7, 2014 at 3:24 pm


In 1968 I tried to cash some Bank of America traveler’s checks at an American Express office in Munich, and was told that there was a fee for cashing any brand other than American Express. I thought a moment, then asked if there was a fee to buy American Express traveler’s checks with Bank of America ones; no, there wasn’t. I bought the Am. Ex. checks and then cashed them. The (very pleasant) clerk helping me smiled and said he would remember that one.

This tiptoeing toward criminality has haunted me ever since.

24 mkt July 9, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Nice. But usually there’s a fee, often 1% but sometimes higher, for buying traveler’s checks, regardless of how one pays for them. So either they were selling you the AmEx traveler’s checks at face value, or the fee was less than the fee for cashing BoA traveler’s checks?

25 Art Deco July 7, 2014 at 7:18 pm

One of Paul Vario’s minions in the Lucchese Family recalled he enjoyed nothing so much as a credit card scam. Even as a multi-millionaire, he would pay for a night at a dinner-theatre with a stolen credit card because ripping people off pleased him so much.

26 Vanya July 8, 2014 at 4:20 am

The Leberkas reference is just the journalist’s attempt to make this more “exotic.” I assume this guy didn’t go through all this trouble and commute out to the airport lounge just to eat Leberkas every week. That would be like an American dining on hot dogs. I think the lounge serves some decent food as well. Or maybe the bottomless beer was the real attraction.

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