The last week has seen a flurry of activity with several amazing ‘special’/mistake fares coming and going.
Each time a fare like this comes along, there’s usually a roller coaster of emotions.
Way back in 2005 a list of the various stages of these fares was created on FlyerTalk and every time I go through this roller coaster myself I always think of these stages and have a giggle, as they still ring so true.
The stages illustrate (with a tongue firmly in cheek!) how those who are considered ‘newbies’ (as they haven’t booked a mistake fare before) react, versus those seasoned ‘pros,’ who book every one of these type of fares they can.
So here are the stages, updated for 2019 and slightly adapted for OMAAT readers.
I hope this brings a smile to your face!
A special fare hits OMAAT with a screaming headline like ‘AMAZING DEAL,’ or ‘HURRY: BOOK NOW!’
Newbies check their leave balances and try and see if their boss is available to speak with that day about time off, text friends about the idea of a trip away (hoping for an immediate response), and start to look at accommodation options, weather forecasts and positioning flights.
They also try and clear their schedules for the next hour while they get their head around the offer, airline/product, routing and try and make the fare work for them.
Pros drop what they are doing and immediately book the fare without checking with anyone else first.
There is a flurry of communication as newbies and pros both complete their bookings and share their trip details on social media. Plenty of ‘hope it sticks’ and ‘got an amazing deal’ type comments.
Calculations are made showing just how much was saved off the standard revenue fare price.
Those who didn’t see the fare at the time ask how on earth friends or family managed to book something so cheap. Those who missed out may declare that there’s ‘no way it’ll be honoured.’
The special fare is pulled and the waiting game begins.
Newbies frantically check that their credit card has been billed, double check their emails for confirmations and search for ticket numbers, and attempt to select seats as well as researching which loyalty program they should credit the flights to.
Pros sit back, relax, and pour themselves a celebratory drink.
Initial contentment sets in — ticket numbers and confirmation emails are found. Leave requests are submitted, friends/families/spouses are informed of their unexpected travel plans, more bragging on social media.
Newbies make non refundable accommodation and positioning flight bookings for the trip.
Pros pour themselves another drink, sit back, and relax.
For now, all is well.
5. More Stress
Rumours of individual ticket cancellations and previous management decisions not to honour the fares start to surface.
Newbies fret and spread these rumours far and wide, and lose sleep about whether their fare will be cancelled.
They curse themselves for booking non-refundable hotel accommodation and positioning flights and start to research just how non-refundable they are.
DoT rules and remedies are discussed at length. Legal advice is given by non lawyers.
Pros pour themselves another drink, sit back, relax, and wait (perhaps with another drink).
A decision about whether the fares will or will not be honoured is finally made and spreads like wildfire.
The fare is honoured. Everyone who booked thanks a higher power for their amazing luck.
DoT is forgotten about.
Those who did not book (especially because they didn’t think the fare would be honoured) feel immediate regret, jealousy of those who did, curse their bad luck and vow to book the next fare that comes along.
(This was me after the Cathay Pacific Vietnam fares were honoured even though I had no plans or desire to go to either Vietnam or the US!)
The fare is not honoured and passengers are either refunded or downgraded.
Immediate threats of legal action are made by both newbies and pros.
Revenge is sought through any means imaginable, from telling anyone who will listen that ‘they will never fly that airline again,’ through to researching which would be the most appropriate court to bring a class action against the airline.
The airline receives a barrage of complaints on social media.
Changes to DoT are again discussed.
Special/mistake fares are one of my favourite parts of this ‘hobby.’ They’re exciting, entertaining, and for those who make it through to Stage 7a, can be incredibly rewarding.
For anyone hoping for the next mistake/special fare, please get set for the next roller coaster when it happens!
Hope this made you smile. ; )
Have you experienced these emotions during a mistake fare?