Ridiculous: Virgin Australia Unilaterally Cancels Tickets Nine Days After Booking

Yesterday I wrote about how Virgin Australia sent out emails to customers who booked ~900USD roundtrip business class tickets from Auckland to Oakland, informing them that their tickets wouldn’t be honored. Those who booked the tickets had the choice between being rebooked in economy or getting a refund. The airline claimed the fare was due to “human error,” and that they’re “unable to honour this ticket in its current form.”

Nowadays DOT regulations don’t require that airlines honor mistake fares, but rather they require airlines to reimburse customers for any non-refundable expenses they incur from having booked the fare. So technically Virgin Australia was within their rights to cancel these tickets, but to me it’s incredibly bad form to only inform customers six days later that their bookings will be canceled. Passengers have 24 hours to cancel a ticket, and airlines should be held to a similar standard, in my opinion.

Well, it gets even more ridiculous. Virgin Australia had some very low economy fares a couple of days before they had those great business class fares, which The Flight Deal wrote about.

On October 30 Virgin Australia published ~172USD roundtrip economy fares between Dallas and Melbourne. I’d assume these fares were a mistake of some sort, though nowadays it’s not unusual to see ~$500 roundtrip airfare for longhaul flights, so it wasn’t that many multiples off of the usual fare.

Now Virgin Australia is sending emails to customers who booked this fare, informing them that the tickets won’t be honored. They’re doing this nine days later. The email reads as follows (thanks to @mxdo1 for sharing):

Recently you purchased an Economy Class fare from Dallas, United States of America, to Melbourne, Australia with us. Due to human error, there was a discrepancy with the fare price advertised and unfortunately we’re unable to proceed with your booking.

We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused. We will cancel your booking and issue you a full refund, which you will receive within the next 7 days to the payment method provided at the time of booking.

Again, we sincerely apologize for this mistake and we thank you for your understanding.

I’m not going to make an argument that Virgin Australia should have honored the fare, but to cancel tickets nine days after people booked is shameful. The lack of communication from an airline typically indicates that a mistake fare will be honored, and generally I figure that if an airline doesn’t contact people within a few days, it’s safe to assume the fare will be honored. But canceling tickets NINE days later?

Typically when people ask me for advise on mistake fares not being honored I recommend just moving on, assuming the airline handled things well. You win some, you lose some. In this case I hope some people take the airline to small claims court, and also submit non-refundable expenses so that Virgin Australia has to pay. They simply can’t think it’s okay to do business this way.

Comments

  1. Absolutely ridiculous. They’ve canceled both Y and J fares. I’ve called the VA Platinum line (which has actual Australians manning the call centre) who have apologized but still refuse to reinstate.

  2. Ben,

    I completely agree. I had a ticketed and confirmed reservation from Dallas to Melbourne and I just received the cancellation email today. My tickets were booked thru Expedia closer to $300 each so I thought I was good since only the really low Priceline fares under $200 were cancelled within a couple days of the deal.

    Shame on Virgin Australia for taking so when we as customers only have 24hrs to decide before we’re committed to non-refundable tickets.

  3. My tickets were just now cancelled as well…9 days later. Will not do business with Virgin Australia ever again if I can help it.

  4. mailto:john.borghetti@virginaustralia.com Enough feedback to the CEO might do the trick or there is always contacting Branson…….. #askrichard

  5. Strange, initially they were going to honor them if you were fully ticketed (flight record numbers and e ticket numbers issued) and your card was charged, now they do an about face? Strange.

  6. If the fare seems too good to be true, I don’t see how anyone can be shocked when it doesn’t work out… Just think of it like buying a lottery ticket. The odds aren’t in your favor, but if you get lucky, you might come out ahead.

  7. Lucky, you , unlike your readers can do something about this . You can boycott reviewing Virgin Australia and perhaps all Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America.

  8. And airlines will keep pushing their luck if customers are pushovers who do nothing to hit them where it hurts: their wallet.

    Customers should always book non-refundable plans after the 24 hours is up, then ask for reimbursements or take the airlines to small claims court. Force the airlines to pay for waiting days before cancelling mistake fares.

  9. @anon – What does Virgin Atlantic or V America have anything to do with this? And how does it make it any different who boycotts: Lucky or the readers? Plus – what is that going to acheive anyway? No use crying over spilled milk. I highly doubt one premium flyer guy who then starts dumping on them online is going to hurt them enough to make them care.

  10. @lucky….I actually like the comment about OMAAT no longer reviewing Virgin’s products. Give Brian, TPG, a call (after all, all of us gays know each other ), and have him stop too.

  11. Yeah, not really happy with the customer service at Virgin Australia.

    I booked one of the Business Class fares but decided to cancel the reservation. I tried to do the cancellation online but since two of the segments were on DL, the website advised to call and cancel the flights. So, I called them ~20 minutes before the 24 hour CXL period and the first agent I spoke to placed me on hold several times. I was under the assumption that she was processing the cancellation for me due to the questions she was asking. However, right when the 24 hour CXL period ended, she told me she had to transfer me to another department. The second agent told me a $600 cancellation fee would apply so I told them I called before the 24 hour CXL period so they should cancel it without a penalty. The agent told me that as a “one time courtesy” they would cancel the flights for me. Ridiculous.

    I was very excited to try out VA’s Business Class product but with the way the airline handles things, I’m not really as excited anymore.

  12. What’s even more unfair is that it doesn’t seem as though the DL issued tickets have been canceled yet.

  13. Thanks for publishing this, Lucky. I agree with @anon above, individual consumers don’t have much weight here but you do. Particularly since Delta appears to be honoring the tickets issued on 006 stock, Virgin’s handling is inexcusable.

    Lucky, you should use the influence that your large and loyal readership gives you to stand up for flyers here and make it clear this is unacceptable — don’t fly or review Virgin Australia again unless they agree to at least reimburse expenses.

    If an airline can wait nine days, why not nine months after booking to retract a fare? I intend to file a DOT claim but am currently out over $600 in expenses that I booked in the past few days (5-6 days after buying the ticket!) and that VA is now refusing to reimburse. It’s shameful and unprofessional. There’s nothing we can do about it individually, but you can…

  14. I hope that quote from Virgin was a copy/paste. That’s great that they typo’ed United States to United Stats.

  15. Let’s all file DoT complaints. Doing just this a few months ago got Emirates to reinstate the Maldives error fare tickets. Emirates tried canceling about 2 days after the 24hr period but enough people filed a Air Travel Complaint with Dept of Transportation. Just Google it.

    Power in numbers and the more people that file DoT complaints the better chance we all have in getting them honored.

  16. @Brenton,

    A Lucky points out in the post, and has done so in several others, airlines routinely have dirt cheap fares as kind of a loss-leader that they’ll consider a marketing ploy just to get their name out there and generate buzz. Oftentimes they’re only available for either a limited time or for a limited number of sales. As such, it’s becoming more and more difficult to determine between a mistake fare and unadvertised promotional fare, so “too good to be true” is not an adage that can be applied anymore. And don’t think airlines don’t know that and don’t use it to their advantage.

  17. I filed a DOT complaint asking them to reinstate the ticket. I also have four flights (two in Aus and two in the US) surrounding this ticket.

    Nine days really is an exceptionally long time to cancel a ticket. It’s not like it priced at $5. The airline should just take the hit and honor the tickets. I think if enough people file a DOT complaint, the airline might back down.

  18. C’mon guys. You all knew this was an error fare & you ran your own risk purchasing them all well knowing it could be cancelled. Virgin is an Aussie company & they have all the right to cancel the error fare at any time, even if it originates in another country. Now if carry on that you will never fly VA ever again – Your loss.
    Their product is second-to-none, especially if you want to start comparing to your own homeland carriers.

  19. There’s an Aussie if I’ve ever met one (and I’ve met a few since I live there). Quick to point out how dumb everyone is and quickly pivot to bashing something related to America. Well done!

  20. No email stating fare was canceled. Cannot believe the steps required to get a refund. BTW, did file a complaint with the DOT.

  21. I filed a DoT (australia)complaint too in regards to this matter. But not sure the outcome since im from kuala lumpur. The e-ticket was issued after all transaction completed through their official website. Ridiculous they just cancelled it after almost a week:(

  22. @PVM, I totally agree with you.
    Yes, nine days is long time, but for Lucky to say that $170USD is “close” to a normal sale fare is ridiculous. The cheapest I’ve ever seen between Melbourne and Dallas is $1100. You HAD to know that was a mistake fare when you booked it, and consider yourself extremely lucky if they actually didn’t cancel it!
    On another note, given that airlines seem to be taking longer and longer to cancel mistake fares, next time shouldn’t people be booking these to travel ASAP? Obviously its not so feasible for most people to just drop everything and fly somewhere (except for lucky maybe), but I suppose if someone booked to fly sometime in the past 9 days, the ticket was honoured/flown? (Assuming the deal was available on those dates) Anyway I guess that should be the strategy when booking obviously erroneous fares going forward…book to travel as soon as possible before they possibly cancel your ticket?

  23. I never received an email either. I waited 5 days to book hotels, positioning flight and happened to notice a downgrade today in the Delta App when looking at seats. Called, spent 70 on phone calls to Australia, no avail, transferred around several times. Filed DOT complaint. Funny thing, is they didn’t downgrade the last leg from BNE to AUCKLAND still has me in business, but all the other flights went from J to T class. Not cool

  24. If you are sufficiently motivated to seek retribution on VA, why not organize a group action where a group of you buy out the J cabin on a given flight with refundable tickets and then cancel at literally the last minute. That would hurt them.

  25. Even worse is I contacted VA 7 days after the fare went for sale and they confirmed my booking was valid and would be honored. I haven’t gotten the email yet but I’m unable to pull up my booking on their website. Absolutely ridiculous.

  26. @Jody Nichols

    Ugh…yes. Or, just “and in several others”. We Americans use way too many words…like the overuse of “that” to introduce various clauses. Good catch.

  27. I think DOT complaints would work on this, particularly the $900 fare. Given recent (and legitimate) business class fare sales, $900 isn’t so out of the ordinary that it is CLEARLY an error. I think the DOT should start leaning toward saying that if the fare is such that a customer can legitimately wonder whether it might be a sale fare or an error, then it has to be honoured.

    So, for example, $200 for an intercontinental business fare is clearly an error and the airline is in its rights to cancel. But $900-$1000 for an intercontinental business fare I would say its not clearly an error in today’s world – could just be a great fare sale – so it should be honoured.

    Also, the DOT really should set a clear timeline for cancelling tickets with error fares.

  28. @PVM
    Yeah everyone should just self-police and try to determine what is and isn’t mistake fares for the airline. If I miss out on a legitimate promo fare it’s just tough luck for me. And next time if I make a mistake booking on a non-refundable ticket, I suppose the airlines will extend the same courtesy to me?

    @LA
    Just last month there was a Dallas – Sydney fare at $700s roundtrip, and various US cities to Melbourne for the same price.

  29. The question becomes… What is the cutoff? I picked some dates that work with $122 fares + taxes, about $285 total per person via PL, and they’re still showing up on both Delta and VA websites. Am I good because the fare was sufficiently high enough, or will they cancel a month from now?

    Guess I’ll wait and see.

  30. I JUST FILED A DOT COMPLAINT (THIS IS WHAT I WROTE) FEEL FREE TO USE ANY OR ALL OF THIS FOR YOUR COMPLAINT AS WELL. 9 DAYS IS WAY TOO LONG ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING THERE WAS NO COMMUNICATION THE PART OF VIRGIN AUSTRALIA. THIS IS NOT HOW WE DO BUSINESS IN THE USA. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, OUR FELLOW AUSSIES AT VIRGIN NEED TO LEARN THIS!

    On 10/30/17 Virgin Australia (VA) advertised low airfare prices from Dallas (DAL) Texas USA to many Australian cities such as Melbourne/Sydney/Brisbane through their own website along with many other third party Online Travel Agencies (OTAs). This appeared to be a promotional sale since origination had to be specifically from Dallas AND since Virgin Australia’s partnership with Delta Air Lines is in direct competition with Qantas Airline’s partnership with American which is also based in Dallas.

    Many people bought these sale priced airfares within the span of a few hours. Virgin Australia through their own website along with other OTAs such as (Expedia, Orbitz and Priceline) issued PNR and ticket numbers. These airfares were officially ticketed. Virgin Australia made no attempt to communicate directly with passengers who booked these low priced airfares that this indeed maybe a price mistake. Nine days later we are just now receiving communication in the form of email from VA or our OTAs indicating the ticketed itineraries are being cancelled by the airline. This is especially unfair to those that made other travel arrangements or that had upcoming travel based on this lack of communication by Virgin Australia.

    From a consumer protection standpoint it is unreasonable for an airline that operates in the United States to lead customers to believe they hold valid and ticketed itineraries for so long (9 days) without any prior notification or warning. We as customers provide our contact information such as email and phone numbers during the booking process. For an airline as large as Virgin Australia to not provide us with timely notification that there maybe an issue with our booking is not a fair way to conduct business. We as customers have only 24 hours to cancel a reservation with an airline without penalty and therefore the same or similar standard should be applied to airline communication with passengers as well.

    In addition there are many reports of customers that called Virgin Australia within the 24 hour cancellation period to cancel their itineraries for personal reasons. Virgin Australia indicated to them that they would be assessed a “cancellation fee” even though the cancellation was within the 24 hour window that Department of Transportation regulations provide.

    Please hold Virgin Australia accountable and stand up for the consumer protections of us as customers/passengers.

  31. @ Ryan — That may not be wise. I’m not a lawyer, but you I doubt one would tell you that is a good idea.

  32. Now that DOT is approving this business strategy, airlines should really be able to make some money. Just wait for an event that raises demand and start cancelling all the cheap advance purchase fares on the day of travel. Then sell those seats at a serious premium.

    Oops! You can just tell them that those cheap advance purchase fares look like a mistake in retrospect now that last minute demand is rising.

  33. “but I suppose if someone booked to fly sometime in the past 9 days, the ticket was honoured/flown…that should be the strategy when booking obviously erroneous fares going forward…book to travel as soon as possible before they possibly cancel your ticket?”

    — my nomination for Darwin Awards 2017

  34. Why do airlines get to unilaterally decide when a fare is a “mistake?” If DOT was really serious about protecting consumers they would allow us to unilaterally cancel mistakes a week later,too.

  35. I’m sure if I canceled a non refundable fare on Virgin Australia and emailed them 9 days later claiming human error calculating the fare they would say no worries
    Here your refund right?
    We understand
    Double Standard I’m afraid

  36. You’ll find that Australia doesn’t have the same level of regulations as the United States has for commercial aviation. I get that flights have to comply with the DoT but small claims will not work, there’s nothing to fight for.
    Australia has some of the most archaic laws for aviation where we don’t get any delay compensation either. Which is very surprising really given that we have excellent consumer laws for retail (such as the ACCC)

  37. Really disappointed in VA’s handling of this one. I personally received a Twitter confirmation that my ticket was good to go, yet it was cancelled out with no email this morning.

    You could just move on to the next fare. But for each one that goes by with flyers sitting idle, airlines become more emboldened to push and lobby until DOT rules are essentially worthless across the board.

    Please consider taking further action so airlines stop taking advantage of a cheap way out.

    For those of us in the US, a DOT complaint is a start. But given the lack of enforcement from the DOT, I would urge people to consider doing any or all of the following:

    *Sending a note directly to the DOT:

    Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings (C-70),
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.
    Washington, D.C. 20590

    The “prosecutorial discretion” temporarily allowing airlines to back out of fares is 2 years old now, as the DOT continues rule making. Write in to the DOT as a comment to their rule making process and make a point that 14 CFR 399.88 must stay. More here:
    https://cms.dot.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/Mistaken_Fare_Policy_Statement_05082015.pdf

    *Contacting your Senator and/or Senate Subcommittee for Aviation:
    https://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/aviationoperationssafetyandsecurity

    512 Dirksen Senate Building
    Washington DC, 20510

    This is the same committee that pushed for answers from United after the Dao incident earlier this year. No guarantees, but it may help visibility push the DOT towards actually finalizing something.

    *Moving forward with small claims court

    Especially for an airline like VA with limited service in the US, even a sprinkling of small claims cases across the 50 states might have them thinking twice before unfairly reneging on people next time.

    I’ve been considering taking action on a separate cancelled ticket, happy to share my notes from my research thus far. (Not a lawyer here…double check local laws, etc. but generally these concepts are the same in most jurisdictions in the US)

    1. For those considering taking small claims action for breach of contract, VA can be served via the following:

    VIRGIN AUSTRALIA INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES PTY LTD
    C/O CSC – Lawyers Incorporating Service
    2710 Gateway Oaks Dr, Suite 150N
    Sacramento, CA 95833

    Businesses that do business in California must have a registered agent; more can be found here:
    https://businesssearch.sos.ca.gov/

    Those out of state can usually serve claims to the above, since VA most likely won’t be registered as a company outside California.

    2. Figure out your “damages” – costs to re-purchase the same exact itinerary, non-refundable expenses, etc.

    3. Pay your small claims fee, certified mail fees, etc.

    4. The defendant (VA) will usually have to file a response within 2-4 weeks (either in person at your local court, or via notary) – and pay a filing fee.

    5. Wait for a court date to present your case. In the meantime, VA may reach out to resolve or settle.

    6. If it does go to court, VA risks a judgement against them being entered into public record and setting precedence. (You do risk losing, but I’d argue that VA has more to lose vs. the filing fee that you paid.)

    Good luck to everyone, keep up the good fight.

  38. Look at the comments here – does anyone advocating legal action, sabotage via booking out the Business cabin and complaining to the US DOT really think they’ve found some means of successfully attacking VA? How many people complaining about this situation actually called VA to confirm?

    Of course, there will be those stating that calling the airline is likely to ruin the opportunity for those willing to take the risk (which is exactly what relying on one of these obviously ridiculous fares is – a risk).

    Every one of these possibilities of retaliation has been analysed to death by VA’s staff and this course of action takes all of those possibilities into account.

    The [SYD|MEL|BNE]-[LAX|SFO|DFW|HOU] just isn’t that competitive. There are 6 airlines each servicing a minor subset of these routes, with 3 effective JVs in place. DL is paired with VA, QF with AA and UA with NZ. NZ has severed their involvement with VA for servicing the US, which actually reduces options for Velocity members in Australia massively and results in price increases of between 25% and 50% for those wanting to build up their Velocity balance and maintain status.

    The fact that AA is downgrading their capacity to SYD and QF doing the same from MEL shows the level of competition here – there isn’t as much as we would like. Award flights for any carrier between the US west coast and the Australian east coast are amongst the hardest to come by in the world, and at least 2 carriers are reducing capacity for this corridor via aircraft changes.

    Given that there’s no way a single leg of that journey could be afforded booking award space on any US or Australian carrier valuing their various points currencies at 1 point/mile per cent of the fare advertised, it’s obviously a mistake and one that should be evident to the readers of and contributors to OMAAT.

    That said, the issues around fare flexibility, overbooking and ongoing loyalty program devaluation do remain generally across the industry in all countries (to their credit, VA are one of of the few airlines not to devalue the program given the massively increased earn opportunities and tiny redemption adjustments).

  39. Irate customers venting their spleen here….and all over suspicious-looking fares which seasoned travellers would spot from a continent away as being ‘too good to be true’. Does anyone seriously think you can fly between the U.S. and Australia (one of THE MOST EXPENSIVE destinations/departure point in the entire world) for peanuts!? Learn from this and move one.

  40. Just a thought. Can make this a gain for us and a huge loss for them.

    What if after 24hrs, you booked the Presidential Suite at a high end hotel for 2 weeks at the non-refundable rate? You can get a ton of credit card points – assuming they reimburse you with a check? Also teach the airline a lesson.

  41. This is so LOL.
    You all knew you were gaming the system and taking advantage of an error.
    VA is well within their rights to do what they’re doing. Stop being such sore losers.

  42. Fortunately Virgin only did this to people who tried to take advantage of an obviously uneconomic fare due to a mistake. They may have figured that disappointing this group was morally balanced, and would likely cost them little in terms of future revenues.

    Now come the posts about “….I was going to buy 7 Business Class tickets…..never again.”

    Is it tomorrow yet?

  43. Because of the failed OBAMA policies, and lovey attention to airlines, they will now cancel any tickets they seem fit and simply call them mistake fares. They will calculate how may people bought the tickets and then have them simply re-book them. The Arabs have an old saying..never let the nose of the Camel inside the tent – and not holding the airlines responsible for mistakes is exactly this. People need to (but the wont) lobby for a resumption of consumer rights and principles regarding air carriers.

  44. This is what happens when airlines are not held for accountability. When customers make mistakes in booking, they tell them to suck it up. When they make mistakes, the customers bear the brunt of their errors as well.

    DoT should rethink their policy. So does the equivalent in Australia as well. This is ridiculous.

  45. @PVM, @LA I completely agree with you 170 (usd) from Dallasa to Melbourne surely people have the common sense to realise it was obviously a mistake fare and it was a gamble to book.

  46. Also EVERYBODY NEEDS TO CALM DOWN !!!! Some people are talking about boycotting VA which is absolutely ridiculous (to put it mildly) , it was one mistake fare (not the end of the world) second if we are talking about boycotting airlines why not boycott the ME3 whose countries all heavily oppose homosexuality and why not boycott some some Asian airlines where the staff are just hired for looks and nothing else and aren’t trained properly also VA have a much superior product in all classes to the vast majority of airlines and living in Australia and flying them regularly I experience that they are always so consistent.

  47. I’m still booked with DL.

    I’m not a loser if I’m upset if they cancel 9 days later. That’s just hugely poor form from them. I’m an Aussie in chicago so straddling both sides of the fence ;). $1000 is probably a mistake sure. But how does this happen?!!? Don’t they have systems toncheck these errors ? Or someone just enters and presses go with no checks?!?? I booked $1200 flying blue last year to Europe and that was a proper promo.

    I once booked flights on qantas for a mate of mine and I. Accidentally used my last name for his booking. Rang them straight away. They wouldn’t let me out hahah. Nor would they let me out 9 days later if I rang and said I booked the wrong dates.

    Ultimately. 9 days. Come on. That’s not right.

  48. @Morgan

    At least the ME3 honor their mistake fares. Qatar recently did with the $600 business class fares to anywhere originating from Vietnam. Emirates did also recently with the Maldives mistake fares (after a successful DoT complaint campaign). And a while back Etihad had a crazy low airfare mistake sale that lasted days from US to anywhere in the world and they honored all of those tickets.

    So say what you want about the ME3 but the competition they present within the aviation industry is good for consumers. It’s partly why the US majors are making their business class better.

  49. Morgan,
    How do you justify that airlines should get away with the mistakes they make, while not letting their customers get away with theirs….
    Mmmm…??

  50. I think that recent mistake/sale fares have exposed two glaring problems with the DOT’s enforcement policy. Consumers only have 24 hours to decide a purchase was a mistake, it is only reasonable that airlines be required to cancel tickets within a similarly short window. It is inconceivable that revenue management needed over a week to realize they had a “mistake.”

    The second issue is that the cutoff is unclear. First class fares for $27 are an obvious mistake. Business class for $1000 is less obvious — certainly in the tatl market, this would be a “normal” sale fare in the off-season. I think folks may have better luck writing their congressional representation to put some pressure on DOT to amend the rules to accommodate these problems: establish a time frame after which consumers may assume a ticket will be honored, and establish a price band around the average fare for a market that would automatically be considered a “sale” regardless of how quickly an airline changes its mind.

    PS for the offended Aussies, airlines are subject to the regulations of the country in which tickets are sold and where the flight begins or ends.

  51. @Moe I am not saying the ME3 products are bad their business class products consistently rank as my favourite in the wolrd I was trying to rather say people should not boycott any airline (otherwise a lot of airlines deserved to be boycotted) Second yes the ME3 honoured all this mistake fares though they could have easily just have not and it’s not like every single mistake fare is always going to honoured by the ME3 if they make a major mistake at some point they will try to not honour it and that’s completely fair as they are legally allowed to.Also people need to use common sense on mistake fares and realise that there fare will most likely be not honoured.

    @Alfred I am not justifying airlines getting away with mistakes I am saying that yes they made a mistake though they just have to legally follow the rules and that is what they are doing and yes VA didn’t communicate nearly enough though that still doesn’t make up for the fact that these were dirt cheap prices and people need to use common sense and realise they will be lucky if even some of these mistake fares are honoured.So you shouldn’t make non-refunded travel plans around what are Cleary mistake fares.

  52. THE DOT HAD AN ENFORCEMENT OFFCIEE EMAIL ME ABOUT MY COMPLAINT. THIS IS PARTLY WHAT HE SAID IN THE EMAIL. THE MORE PEOPLE THAT FILE COMPLAINTS THE BETTER CHANCE WE HAVE IN GETTING VIRGIN AUSTRALIA TO EITHER HONOR THE FARES OR HAVE THEM FINANCIALLY PENALIZED FOR WAITING SO LONG TO INFORM US AS PASSENGERS. PLEASE FILE A DOT COMPLAINT. JUST GOOGLE
    “dot consumer complaint” first link click blue box that says “File a Consumer Complaint”

    Although not guaranteed, based on past precedent if enough people file similar DOT complaints airlines will offer customers the choice to reinstate tickets as originally purchased.

    This responds to your communication regarding Virgin Australia. The U.S. Department of Transportation seeks to ensure that all airline passengers are treated fairly. Complaints from consumers are helpful to us in determining whether the airlines are in compliance with our rules and to track trends or spot areas of concern that warrant further action.

    Based on the information you have provided, your complaint appears to fall under the Department’s rules. I will forward your complaint to the airline and ask the company to respond directly to you with a copy to us. Airlines are required to acknowledge receipt of a consumer complaint within 30 days and provide a substantive response to the complainant within 60 days. I will review the airline’s response.

    If my review of your complaint and the response from the company discloses a potential violation of our rules, our office may pursue enforcement action. Generally, our office pursues enforcement action on the basis of a number of complaints which may indicate a pattern or practice of violating our rules. Your complaint may be among those considered and may lead to appropriate enforcement action including the assessment of civil penalties. However, our office has no authority to order compensation for individual complainants.

  53. @Morgan

    Virgin Australia did NOT legally follow the rules. People that attempted to cancel their tickets within the 24hr free cancellation period were getting push back from Virgin Australia that they would be assessed a $400 cancellation fee. Look at some of the other comments. Therefore this further lead customers to believe this was a legitimately ticketed itinerary. On top of all this their failure to communicate for 9 days is unacceptable from a consumer protection standpoint. Most reasonable people buy airfare then purchase other services related to travel such as hotels and car rentals. Waiting 9 days further lead to the belief that these would be honored. Why should we as customers have to contact the airline? It’s the airline’s responsibility to notify us of a potential issue which they did not do. Virgin Australia violated the rules. This is not similar to other airfare mistakes where the airline promptly cancelled the tickets. This is very different.

  54. I think the reasonable rule would be a time limit for an airline to declare a “mistake”, perhaps accompanied by a fine/fee to discourage any idea of making “mistakes” on purpose, as some have suggested. I don’t have a proposal but I think that not allowing any leeway for true mistakes would be wrong, and also that not notifying people for nine days is wrong.

    Also, I’ve got to say that we can usually recognize the difference between a real sale fare and a mistake. The more people who take advantage of a mistake, the more likely it is not to be honored. Probably there needs to be more discretion in publicizing those.

  55. Just wanted to keep everyone updated. I just got a call about 30 min ago from Delta stating that they cannot honor the business class fare. This is 10 days after the ticket was purchased and issued. Very frustrating. @Moe – filing a complaint right now.

  56. I had booked accommodation to match the dates. It is non refundable. So I have booked on CX. A mistake that Virgin will regret. They are trying to promote the service to the USA while QF has had the market for some time. Destroying key business travelers view is not good business. Good by VA last time me and my company will fly with you. Yes we have over 50 employees who fly weekly in AUS. So by a very disappointing decision they have lost all my companies future business + the damage that has occurred over social media.

  57. Anyone else still not gotten a refund?
    I booked two sets of tickets, no emails on either but can no longer pull up my reservation so I assume they cancelled my ticket.

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