Back on November 1, Delta published some cheap business class fares for travel between Auckland, New Zealand, and Oakland, California. The fares allowed travel on Delta or Virgin Australia for the transpacific sector, and roundtrip tickets cost ~900USD, which was a heck of a deal.
I think most of us assumed this was a mistake fare, though it wasn’t quite as clear cut as some of the mistake fares we’ve seen in the past (it’s not like it cost 90USD). Nowadays the US Department of Transportation doesn’t require airlines to honor mistake fares, but rather requires them to reimburse passengers for any non-refundable expenses they incur resulting from reliance on those tickets.
So ultimately airlines are within their rights to cancel these tickets, though I also think they have the obligation to make a decision quickly as to whether or not tickets will be honored. When it comes to super cheap fares, the lack of communication from an airline should indicate that it will be honored.
Unfortunately Delta really failed here. Delta began informing passengers that these fares won’t be honored a full eight days after people booked. Some people received notices even later than that. Delta gave passengers the option to either have their tickets canceled, or to be rebooked in economy for the same cost.
It’s one thing if they had given passengers this option within 24 hours, but to do so over a week later is unacceptable, in my opinion, and sets a very bad precedent for airlines having the ability to unilaterally cancel tickets. You can bet that if I made a mistake booking a ticket and called an airline eight days later, they’d tell me to pound sand.
Well, there’s some good news on this front. Many are reporting that Delta has changed their mind and reached out to indicate that they’ll be honoring these tickets after all. Apparently a meeting happened with some higher-ups, and they decided the best course of action is to honor these fares. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for those who booked through Virgin Australia, at least as of now.
I can’t guarantee that Delta is proactively reaching out to everyone who booked to reinstate tickets, but if you booked a ticket I’d certainly recommend following up to be sure your ticket is honored as well.
Usually when airlines make a decision on mistake fares they don’t change their mind, so I’m very happy to see this. Sometimes persistence pays off, it seems.
If you booked one of these tickets, has Delta reached out to you yet?