I missed out on it personally, but many of you got in on a great deal from New York to Bali in Korean Air First Class booked with Delta Air Lines for $2,700. But two days later, Delta decided it did not want to honor the deal and began cancelling tickets. The latest “mistake fare” reveals how little protection consumers have against airlines who later have seller’s remorse.
Delta Calls $2,7000 First Class Fare To Bali A Mistake
Let’s be clear. $2,700 is cheap for Korean Air First Class. But it’s quite different than a $0 fare and frankly within the realm of possibility considering Bali is a leisure destination. The fact that business class was more expensive than first class tells me little, as I routinely see carriers charge more for an economy or premium economy class seat than business if economy class is full and the front cabin is not.
On June 11th from about noon to 8:00PM ET, this deal was bookable on the Delta Air Lines website and most online travel agencies. Many of you did book. A day went by with no word from Delta. Then a second day. It was only later on that second day, June 13th, that Delta began cancelling these reservations and sending out the following emails to passengers:
We’re reaching out because of your recently purchased flight from the U.S. to Bali operated by our partner, Korean Air. Unfortunately, due to an inadvertent publication error, an erroneous fare was displayed at the time of your purchase.
As a result of this erroneous fare, Delta is canceling your ticket, and a full refund of the ticket price will be issued. If you incurred any out-of-pocket, nonrefundable expenses that were made in reliance upon your ticket purchase, please contact our Help Center and follow the prompts under Feedback and Complaints to request reimbursement. Please be sure to include any receipts for out-of-pocket expenses in your request. For rebooking options, including rebooking at the corrected fare, please visit Delta.com.
We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this caused and hope to have an opportunity to serve you soon.
Thank you for choosing Delta.
Let’s assume that Korean Air told Delta it would not honor these tickets unless Delta payed up and Delta decided it was not going to pay up. Under current U.S. law, Delta must only pay for incidental expenses booked in reliance upon the ticket (which it explicitly offered to do in the note above).
This is the specific 2015 U.S. Department of Transportation rule I am talking about:
As a matter of prosecutorial discretion, the Enforcement Office will not enforce the requirement of section 399.88 with regard to mistaken fares occurring on or after the date of this notice so long as the air line or seller of air transportation: (1) demonstrates that the fare was a mistaken fare; and (2) reimburses all consumers who purchased a mistaken fare ticket for any reasonable, actual and verifiable out-of-pocket expenses that were made in reliance upon the ticket.
My question is how did Delta demonstrate this was a mistake fare? For that matter, how can any airline demonstrate a $2,700 fare is a mistake fare?
Passengers who complained to Delta were provided a $200 voucher. That may seem generous, but its rather generous (perhaps comical is the better word) that U.S. consumers can find their reservation confirmed, ticket issued, and credit card charged only to have an airline decide days later not to honor the ticket.
There are clear mistake fares (e.g., $0 fares so out-of-the-ordinary as to render them ridiculously cheap) and then there are $2,700 tickets to Bali that do not strike me as all that great of a deal. While I personally think airlines should be forced to honor all so-called mistake fares, at the very least fares like this should be honored. It’s a disappointing move by Delta.
For those of you who booked this fare, are you just going to let it go?