Could this get any worse for everyone involved? With a HT to Lucky the DOT has now made a mess for everyone (see PDF linked). This really is bad for those who purchase tickets but even, in many ways, much worse for the airlines for the time being.
First off my take. I have no problem with mistake fares. The airlines should have the best IT on the planet but don’t (all you have to do is look at the utterly and completely broken Delta award calendar for a shining example). So, they should have the safeguards in place to prevent mistake fares from ever happening.
The next issue is that often airlines publish an “attack” fare on another airline that is a VERY low price to compete against a route or to protect a route they fly. This DOT ruling gives a strange “out” and now presents the right to do “whatever” even whey they intentionally publish a low fare (or that is how I see it anyway).
What a complete and total mess this is.
Beyond all this, notice the worst part of all of this for the airlines themselves (and I am beyond happy they are going to get stuck with this part):
As a matter of prosecutorial discretion, the Enforcement Office will not enforce the requirement of section 399.88 with regard to mistaken fares occurring on or after the date of this notice so long as the airline or seller of air transportation: (1) demonstrates that the fare was a mistaken fare4; and (2) reimburses all consumers who purchased a mistaken fare ticket for any reasonable, actual, and verifiable out-of-pocket expenses that were made in reliance upon the ticket purchase, in addition to refunding the purchase price of the ticket. These expenses include, but are not limited to, non-refundable hotel reservations, destination tour packages or activities, cancellation fees for non-refundable connecting air travel and visa or other international travel fees. The airline may ask the consumer requesting out-of-pocket expenses to provide evidence (i.e. receipts or proof of cancellations) of actual costs incurred by the consumer. In essence, the airline or seller of air transportation is required to make the consumer “whole” by restoring the consumer to the position he or she was in prior to the purchase of the mistaken fare. The enforcement policy outlined in this notice is temporary and will remain in effect only until the Department issues a final rule that specifically addresses mistaken fares. If, based on comments received in the rulemaking process, the Department determines that section 399.88 should remain as written, airlines and other sellers of air transportation would be expected to comply and the Enforcement Office would enforce the requirement. – BOLD MINE
So are we clear on this? Say you book a Delta mistake fare to Europe. You then, as soon as you get a PNR or confirmation of the ticket, book a cruise or something else that is non-refundable, and the airline then cancels your ticket so you can’t go (saving them who knows how much), they must then repay you maybe THOUSANDS of dollars for the cruise, hotels or whatever you booked due to the mistake fare you thought you were going to fly. Joy?
Again, be careful what you wish for airlines, you make get more than you bargained for. What a complete disaster for everyone.
On the plus side think of the thousands of posts my fellow BA blogger Chris Elliott will get from this when Delta, and all the other airlines worldwide, refuse to follow up and pay out what they must per this ruling. Ugg, what a complete mess.
We already have American publicly stating points, both redeemable and elite, will be whatever they say with a mistake fare. That is their right as frequent flyer points are totally airline “funny money”. But now, we are talking REAL cash here folks.
I think this is, for now, going to result in MORE mistake fares approved by the airlines. Giving a cheap seat to a few flyers, to me, will never be worth the complete and utter mess canceling and having to follow up and pay out money to make flyers “whole” again.
So you tell me – what do you think of the utter and complete mess we have on our hands? – René
Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.