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Yesterday morning I quickly wrote about a possible amazing opportunity to grab a ridiculously cheap fare from London to many US cities. Fares seemed to range from anywhere between $44 and $85 and the best part is that business and first class seats were included! Clearly this was a mistake fare and could only be found on the Denmark United site. You also had to keep your billing address set to Denmark. So there were a few loopholes you had to go through to get the fare.
In situations like this, you never know whether or not the airline will in fact honor the fare. And unfortunately in this situation United has decided that they will NOT honor these fares from yesterday. I know people have mixed views of whether or not the fare should be honored based on principle and ethics. On one hand people will say it is not ethical to knowingly take advantage of a business by purchasing something that is clearly a mistake. On the other hand, when United’s customers make a mistake and need to change or cancel their flight they are anything but sympathetic and charge you an arm and a leg. So it really isn’t a two way street here.
Additionally, a few years ago the DOT put in place a rule to protect customers. Ultimately it states (bolded is mine): “It is an unfair and deceptive practice within the meaning of 49 U.S.C. 41712 for any seller of scheduled air transportation within, to or from the United States, or of a tour (i.e., a combination of air transportation and ground or cruise accommodations), or tour component (e.g., a hotel stay) that includes scheduled air transportation within, to or from the United States, to increase the price of that air transportation, tour or tour component to a consumer, including but not limited to an increase in the price of the seat, an increase in the price for the carriage of passenger baggage, or an increase in an applicable fuel surcharge, after the air transportation has been purchased by the consumer, except in the case of an increase in a government-imposed tax or fee. A purchase is deemed to have occurred when the full amount agreed upon has been paid by the consumer.”
Ultimately, it states that as long as you book a flight where the fare you paid is the fare originally listed (which was not the case in the United 4 mile price glitch back in the Summer of 2012 since the original price listed was higher than what was actually paid), the airline has to honor the fare. This is for flights that include a US city.
In this situation, the fare listed on the site is the exact same fare that was paid. So I am still not sure how United will ultimately get out of this one based on the DOT rules. I am also not 100% confident that their initial decision will be the final decision. Of course I am not a lawyer, but that is just my two cents. There are many people filing complaints with the DOT which you are more than welcome to do (I am not advocating it one way or the other, just letting you know that this is an option!).
What are your thoughts on the situation? Feel free to comment below.