Flying on a Mistake Fare? You’re Not a Customer Whose Business We Want to Incentivize.

Here’s something interesting from the terms and conditions for American’s new premium cabin fare incentives. (I believe it was first noticed here.)

Mistake fares won’t earn bonus points towards status. From the promotion:

Airline tickets issued as a result of airfare offered inadvertently or by mistake will not be eligible for elite-qualifying points.

American is honoring $22++ business class tickets to China. This was news in just the past few weeks, and almost certainly had the issue of mistake fares front of mind as they rolled out this promotion.

I don’t recall ever seeing mistake fares called out as specifically ineligible for promotion earning (although I’ve seen some fares and rates excluded from earning, though not broadly and in terms and conditions).

I don’t really blame American, they’re awarding qualifying miles and redeemable miles and presumably also bonus redeemable miles as part of the premium fare promotion for 2015. But there’s fair notice that a promotion not in effect at the time of purchase of those China tickets won’t be awarded to them, and fare notice for the future as well.

I wonder, though, about the extra cost of coding those tickets to ensure that the fares don’t get bonused — whether the juice is worth the squeeze, as it were.

Still, mistake fare passengers get business (or upgraded first!) class travel plus miles and progress towards status. They’re on notice that they don’t earn status faster.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Key word is ‘points’. You still get the miles and segments towards elite status.

  2. But are we talking about getting the promotional extra 0.5 points or to get ANY points at all?

  3. There was consideration to not award anything on the tickets as aadvantage had the right to not award points miles etc on any fare class for reduced, special or free tickets. Honestly that’s the route airlines should take regarding these tickets. You can fly, but we do not have to award any miles.

  4. I wonder whether they noticed several pax booking multiple trips which would indicate exactly that intention – to use the error fare to get status quickly. I don’t remember the exact numbers but the cost for high level status was ridiculously low with these fares (had they counted)

  5. I think airlines should move to not award anything on mistake fares. That would be a fair end to that whole game.

  6. Why does everyone keep referring to these as $22+ fares? I believe they were about $450, with about $350+ going into AA’s pockets.

  7. I think most of you did not check the link or pay attention to all the details in the article. He’s just talking abut the recent promo for bonus miles on top of what you normally get or taking a flight. Hes not saying you will get credit at all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *