Travis is my first new contributor to the blog, who will be posting a couple of times per week. The idea behind adding guest contributors is to add different perspectives to the blog. Travis has a unique approach towards travel, given that he travels almost exclusively with his wife and young children, which is in stark contrast to my travels, which are usually alone.
By now you are likely aware that United had a so-called fare mistake on the morning of February 11th in which it was possible to buy first class tickets from England to the US at deeply discounted prices.
Ben didn’t think the fare should be honored and wrote Let’s Be Reasonable About Yesterday’s First Class Mistake Fare. I wrote a dissenting opinion with United Should Man Up And Own Their Great Dane Mistake.
Naturally the discussion was heated on both sides, as is usually the case with these things. It actually got so bad on FlyerTalk that they had to temporarily shutdown the thread to give everyone a cooling off period.
Well, the ruling is now out. And the Department of Transportation is siding with United:
After a careful review of the matter, including the thousands of submissions from consumers and information from United, the Enforcement Office has decided that it will not take action against United for not honoring the tickets.
Obviously I don’t agree with the ruling. But I will commend the DOT for issuing it in an expedient manner. It was also somewhat expected given the intimations that the DOT has made lately.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings (Enforcement Office) has completed its review of the mistaken fares that appeared on United Airlines’ (United) Denmark website on February 11, 2015. During the past two weeks, thousands of consumers who purchased tickets from United’s Denmark website at the mistaken fare levels have contacted the Enforcement Office asking that United be required to honor those fares based on the Department’s rule against post-purchase price increases of scheduled air transportation.
After a careful review of the matter, including the thousands of submissions from consumers and information from United, the Enforcement Office has decided that it will not take action against United for not honoring the tickets. The mistaken fares appeared on a website that was not marketed to consumers in the United States. In order to purchase a ticket, individuals had to go to United’s Denmark website which had fares listed in Danish Krone throughout the purchasing process. In addition, only people who identified “Denmark” as their location/country where billing statements are received when entering billing information at the completion of the purchase process were able to complete their purchase at the mistaken fare levels. Consistent with the Office’s treatment of fare advertisements and disclosure of baggage fees, it does not intend to enforce the rule in question (the post-purchase price increase prohibition) when the fare offer is not marketed to consumers in the United States. Additionally, the Office is concerned that to obtain the fare, some purchasers had to manipulate the search process on the website in order to force the conversion error to Danish Krone by misrepresenting their billing address country as Denmark when, in fact, Denmark was not their billing address country. This evidence of bad faith by the large majority of purchasers contributed to the Enforcement Office’s decision.
To ensure that the Office’s determination that United is not required to honor the mistaken fare is available to all affected consumers expeditiously, the Office is placing this notice on its website rather than responding separately to each individual who has contacted the Department. The Office has also agreed that United may choose to post information about its handling of this incident in a prominent location on its website instead of providing individual responses to consumers who submitted an inquiry to United or the Department regarding this matter. We believe that posting of information by the Department and United is the best course of action as it offers the most effective means of reaching as many consumers as possible at the same time.
What do you think of the ruling?