Frequent flyer award tickets are supposed to reward loyalty. They don’t feel very rewarding when they come with a cash co-pay in the form of fuel surcharges which — for economy redemptions — can be almost as much as the cost of a paid ticket. (We’ve even seen instances in the past where British Airways fuel surcharges on an award ticket were more expensive than the cheapest fare you could buy with cash.)
Hawaiian Airlines accidentally started imposing the mother of all carrier-imposed surcharges on its awards last week, and they are “deeply sorry.”
Eighty five HawaiianMiles members who redeemed miles for award tickets were charged $17,500 to $674,000 on their credit cards. Apparently the airline was charging cash equal to the number of miles being redeemed. And you thought being hit for a 674,000 mile award was bad enough.
One woman “was mistakenly charged more than $150,000, even though she has a $10,000 limit on her HawaiianMiles credit card.” It’s not clear to me how the bank issuer could have approved this charge. Even without a preset spending limit this is 15 times the card’s credit line. Now she’s worried that bills charged to the card automatically each month will be declined.
The glitch was limited to this past Monday and the airline said it’s reversing the incorrect charges.
Meanwhile, also on Monday, the airline was allowing redemptions for zero miles. 1300 awards were issued, however those tickets were voided. In 2012 United awards to and through Hong Kong all priced at 4 miles and those tickets were cancelled. The existence of a published award chart showing more expensive prices was cited by the Department of Transportation for why United didn’t have to honor the bookings. (Some people who booked with United for travel in the days after the glitch did get to take their trips.)
Hawaiian Airlines is giving each of the people making these bookings 10,000 miles, a generous move. However one customer complains that they made “thousands of dollars” in related bookings. If they cannot cancel those presumably DOT rules would require Hawaiian to cover the costs. (If you ever have to sue over a deal like this gone bad, the lawyer who represented members in the easyCGI shopping portal case I believe takes his compensation in miles…
(HT: One Mile at a Time)