Matthew previously wrote a post about his Thoughts on Mistake Fares. Today, it is my turn to write my thoughts.
Flight mistake fares don’t happen quite often, but when they do and we happen to be at the right place at the right time, should we take advantage of this? The answer is simple. Depends.
Mistake fares are the kind of thing which doesn’t have a proper standard to it. Like a relationship. It may be right to do it in one circumstances, but it may be wrong to do it in another. Nonetheless, mistake fares are little miracles that happen once a blue moon in our lifetime.
Why do mistake fares happen?
Are the airlines trying to give us a gift for being loyal clients for so many years? Possibly. But there lies a few reasons:
Fuel Surcharges are a huge chunk of our entire ticket price and sometimes they may be excluded in the total price through coding errors. This creates huge reductions in the entire ticket price and usually occurs when there are more than one airline present in the purchased ticket.
We are all humans and humans make mistakes. Sometimes a mishit on one of the keys on the keyboard can cause tickets to drop by hundreds of dollars.
Converting currency can be a pain and allows room for miscalculations, especially if the currency difference is big, such as from British pounds to Japanese yen.
Mistake Fare which was not honoured:
On February 11th, 2015, United had a currency conversion error for their fare tickets going from United Kingdom to anywhere in the world. However, there were some points that proved the intent behind travelers who took advantage of this “glitch”.
For one, in order to take advantage of the mistake fare you would need to specifically go to the Danish version of the United website in order to find the mistake fare.
Secondly, you had to provide a Danish billing address in order to complete the purchase.
Finally, if you went to a third party website, you would not find the same “promotion” for the identical ticket.
DOT Does Not Need to Honour Error Fares:
The Department of Transportation in US will no longer force airlines to honour mistake fares, a complete opposite of their policy issued in 2012 that required airlines to honour mistake fares. The main intent of the policy was to deter airlines from modifying the price of a ticket after it had been purchase and not meant to cover error fares.
Mistake Fares On the Canadian Side
Seems like the Canadian Transportation Agency has followed the U.S. policy as they did not honour a mistake fare for travel on Swiss International Air Lines in 2014 and one for travel on Air Canada in 2015.
The agency sided with Swiss with a tariff which states that Swiss “reserves the right to cancel reservations and/or tickets with an erroneously quoted fare by reason of a technical failure prior to it being detected and corrected, and to void the purchased ticket and refund the amount paid by the customer and/or offer the customer the ticket at a published fare that should have been available at the time of booking”.
For Air Canada, a number of business-class flight passes were sold for a tenth of its regular $8,000 value due to a compute glitch in the system. The purchase was not validated in the end and travellers were refunded the price of the error fare ticket.
If we do manage to take advantage of a mistake fare, we should not make non-refundable travel plan arrangements until it has been confirmed that the mistake fare will be honoured. We are never certain that every mistake fare will be honoured.
Mistake Fares Honoured
American Airlines decided to honour their mistake fare with discounted flight fares up to 90% as a conversion error occurred in the system. The currency exchange rate was swapped for Brazil and the United States where R$1.00 was about $0.29US when it should have been vice versa.
In the end, American Airlines decided to cancel tickets based on one condition, if travellers deliberately changed their country of residence to Brazil when they indeed did not reside in Brazil.
The Bottom Line
In situations where it is obvious that a mistake in the airline system has occurred, it is most likely that a mistake fare will not be honoured. If you know the actual fare of a regular priced ticket and it has dropped seemingly low, then chances are it will not be honoured. If you have to change your country of residence or any other similar factors in order to receive the “cheap” pricing, it is unlikely your ticket will be honoured.
Mistake fares can be looked at like really good discounts which we don’t normally see; if you honestly believe the ticket price to be just that, then you got yourself a pretty good case. Otherwise, we should honour the airline’s decision to revoke “error” tickets that have been purchased.