Earlier in the week flights originating in the UK were pricing in Danish Kroner at a price that’s pennies on the dollar what they normally run.
You could fly from the UK to pretty much anywhere in the world in business or first class at price hovering around $100 or less.
This wasn’t a United-specific glitch, but United.com was the most common place to buy these tickets. United voided these tickets.
Via commenter Elo, the Department of Transportation has posted an update on the United Danish Kroner fares.
I have several thoughts on this:
- This was an obvious mistake. United addressed it in less than 12 hours. They shouldn’t be ethically obligated to honor these tickets.
- The Department of Transportation stuck themselves in the middle of these fares. Previously, airlines often honored mistake deals (either because of the bad press they often got when they didn’t, or because of contracts with computer reservation systems that required it). A currency conversion error, with this many tickets purchased, might not have been honored.
- While the DOT promulgated a rule requiring airlines to honor tickets that have been purchased regardless of price, they don’t like that airlines have to honor tickets regardless of price — they want consumers unaware of a glitch to have tickets honored, but don’t want consumers to be able to take advantage when they’re aware of glitches.
- They’re in the process of amending their rules to prevent requiring airlines from honoring mistake fares.
- While I’m not a regulatory lawyer, or a transportation lawyer, a plain reading of their rules would seem to come down on net requiring United to honor.
- I still don’t expect the DOT to make United honor the fares. They’ll find a reading of the rules that doesn’t require it.
- In fact, I’d bet they already know how they’re going to do it. It’s almost a certainty that United discussed and agreed with DOT on how to handle.
- The delay is that DOT has to formalize their response.
- And since I don’t think United ought ethically to be bound to honor this, I don’t think filing DOT claims or lawsuits is appropriate.
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