FlyerTalk is known for having its fair share of “mistake fares,” whereby members discover some incredible mistake deals. Most of the time the airlines/booking sources honor them when they’re actually fully booked, although sometimes they don’t.
A little over a month ago a FlyerTalker discovered a Business Class fare from EWR-MEX for around $600, which, while normal on the surface, allowed some pretty crazy routings since it didn’t have a maximum number of permitted miles or routing rules. As an example the OP of the thread (which can be found here), found an EWR-YYZ-EZE-SCL-MEX routing, which was actually one of the more mild routings. Some managed to route through HNL, for example, so there were endless possibilities.
Some people have already completed travel and reported back without any problems, although a couple of days ago people have started getting calls from Air Canada offering to either refund the ticket or take a direct routing, but are being told they can’t fly what they originally booked. As unreasonable as that may be, that’s not where it ends. Now people are getting calls and being told their tickets are being refunded without any other options for travel. Obviously FlyerTalkers are infuriated, both by the sudden change (keep in mind many bought separate tickets to get to EWR to take this trip and also booked accommodations at various places along the way), as well as the awful attitude of the agents, some even accusing people that took advantage of this fare of stealing! Many are threatening lawsuits, so it will be interesting to see what happens.
Either way it looks like Air Canada is doing a crummy job of handling this and while they may be successful in covering their rear, this will net them some bad PR.