British Airways has been getting quite a bit of media attention for once again not honoring mistake fares. Specifically, passengers booked fares from London to Tel Aviv and Dubai for 200GBP and 220GBP, respectively, and the airline has decided not to honor these tickets. There are two things that make this instance of them not honoring the fare especially bad, in my opinion:
- They waited about a week before they let passengers know they wouldn’t honor these fares
- The fares aren’t actually that low, as there are ultra low cost carriers with even lower fares between London and Tel Aviv
Wizz Air capitalized on British Airways’ mistake by offering 160GBP roundtrip fares to those who were booked to Tel Aviv. The catch is that they’re only allowing this for travel through July 21, 2018, which leaves a very limited travel window, and also their fares don’t include bags, food, drinks, etc.
Nonetheless I think it was brilliant of them to basically point out that their normal fares are as much as British Airways’ mistake fare (though I think they should have honored that pricing for anyone, regardless of when they’re traveling).
Wizz Air isn’t the only airline capitalizing on British Airways’ mistake. Virgin Atlantic has Tweeted the following today, suggesting that their fares so good that you may think they’re a mistake:
— Virgin Atlantic (@VirginAtlantic) June 21, 2018
As you can see, they also say “Don’t worry, even if we mess up we’ll still honour our prices.” I’m not sure if they intended to make an explicit promise to always honor mistake fares in the future, but based on how I read it, that’s exactly what they did.
Nowadays there generally isn’t much government intervention when it comes to assuring mistake fares are honored. For example, back in the day the US Department of Transportation was really strict in requiring airlines to honor mistake fares that touch US soil, though they changed their policy in 2015.
Now the airline just has to reimburse you for any expenses incurred as a result of reliance on the fare. Of course that wouldn’t have applied in the above case, since no travel to/from the US was included.
Now we just need the next Virgin Atlantic mistake fare!