Our story does not have a happy ending: Ethiopian refused to budge and I’m still in Bangkok.
I’ll provide the play-by-play tomorrow, and have video as well, but I think this whole debacle can be summed up in one picture:
That’s Tadesse Meskel, Ethiopian’s Bangkok Station Manager. He’s staring at a computer reading notes about my ticket.
Mr. Meskel was a gentleman and I believe that if he was empowered, I would have flown business class last night. He understood and accepted the logic that I should not be penalized for a so-called mistake that his company made.
But his hands were tied. I sat more or less waiting for three hours as he tended to his duties as Station Manager while trying to find a solution for me. But there was none.
The way this situation unfolded makes me deeply cynical about ever doing any business with Ethiopian again. You’ll be amused by a conversation I had with the head office in Addis Ababa.
I’m resting up, plotting a routing home. There are many safe and easy options, but I want to at least do something unique here. But one thing is certain: it will not be on Ethiopian Airlines.
I am so, so sorry to hear about this unfortunate incident. I will be sure to let my husband Frank know to see if he could lend you any legal advice.
Yes, she’s a great one.
“You tried your best and failed miserably. The lesson is never try” – Homer Simpson.
Kidding. I salute your effort.
Omg. Are you really stupid? I hope your wife reads this and takes all your stuff before you get back and then takes all your miles.
So you had already been told that your ticket had been cancelled and wouldn’t be honored but you still show up at the airport anyway.
What a moron. Really?
Ps your picture for the blog is stupid and creepy you idiot!!!!
Better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all, Matthew.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Since the destination is YYZ, I am wondering why don’t you file a complaint to Canadian Transportation Agency? CTA is far more responsive than DOT. I believe you have a case here.
Based on my history with the CTA, I believe they will not side with me.
… which is why you decided to fly all over to BKK to bully instead.
Sorry to hear that Matthew! Glad you have the means to pursue this case! Hope it goes to trial. Could generate a lot of publicity for ET 😉
You gave it your best shot
Love that Simpson’s quote!
Butt you’ve got a press interview to do…so all is not lost.
you should not post airlines employee’s picture on your blog.
Agreed,,,not without their permission!
All I had to know in the headline was ‘Ethiopian’. Nuff said. No need to travel x thousands of miles to get into a snafu with Ethiopians when you could have stayed home and simply visited Little Ethiopia in L.A. to get your dose of trouble. I note that United Airlines has Ethiopian as well as LifeMiles showing on the LAX-Dublin route. No thanks. I’ll buy a ticket any day to avoid certain airlines vice use awards. Have fun, at least it happened in BKK where you have multiple egress options.
At least, ET doesn’t beat passengers up, dummy.
Matthew, your tale has had us intrigued since it began. We were optimistic in our hopes for a successful resolution once Ethiopian saw your resolve.
Unfortunately, airlines have side-stepped the basics of contract law in recent years.
Upon your return you should carry the banner for #BoycottEthiopian. Perhaps they will give you a nice payoff to counter the potential negative media attention.
I like the blog, it’s very thoughtful, but the foreign-airline-gotcha storyline, played out over several days, does not feel so constructive. (It also may explain why so many people hate lawyers even when they’re right.)
This is super obsessive and somewhat creepy. I’d rather read a 41 part Bora Bora trip report by Daraius and Emily than read your 35 part error fare, self created drama. You’re obviously doing this just for content, or you would have filed with the CTA.
Inray wrote: “You’re obviously doing this just for content, or you would have filed with the CTA.”
You do realize Matthew is a travel blogger, right? And that part of the reason he did this was as an advocate for others who fly on ultra-low fares and award tickets?
Honestly, what is it that these angry commenters are missing? It’s the most bizarre mix of schadenfreude and stupidity I’ve encountered.
He was playing Russian roulette and knew from the beginning that it was an error fare. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t. It is the cost of doing business.
“ultra low fares”
Give me a break dude. The airlines and DOT/CTA aren’t stupid. They all know that people who think they’re crafty use that term to describe mistake fares.
Stuck in BKK isn’t such a bad thing ! If I were you I’d be
heading out Soi4 , Patpong, Soicowboi – but don’t tell the wife ! .. hahah , enjoy yourself – you only live once ! God I love Bangas and everything it has to offer
If they change their mind and offer you some kind of fair compensation for their botch job due to this stinging publicity, it shouldn’t be some “special exception.”
Sorry dude, I’m not sure to feel bad for your luck or feel bad for the wife and baby at home. It’s a long way to go for just a few more clicks on the fledgling blog, successful error fare or not. Hope the credit card affiliate sign ups pay off for you.
What an ass. I’m sure you feel good about wasting hours of the station manager’s time.
Hey Matthew, I’ve booked four RTs BKK-YYZ when the error fare came out, booked and they contacted me few days later that they had to cancel all my bookings… They made the error, giving bunch of excuses on the phone and blaming passengers… Totally disappointing!
Well, I do agree with Matthew that airlines are not playing fair game – when we make small unimportant mistake, they punish us severely, when they make more serious mistake, then nothing happens and they just cancel and refund… Matthew is right to be there and expose their nasty game.
It is fascinating how many people here voice out concerns about Matthews actions in such a disrespectful way. You guys realise that he has pretty solid reasons for what he did and he actually explained those reasons in a way I for one can absolutely understand them. It is ok if you guys want to be scammed over by companies and thank them for it, but then don’t read blogs like this since the information you find here won’t matter to you anyhow!
@Solomon you do realise that it’s literally one part of the station managers job to deal with stuff like that? How can you waste someones time by having them done their job? You should start to check your thoughts with some logic before you write them down…
He knew in advance the ticket would not be honored
I can assure you I didn’t. I had back-ups in mind, but nothing actually booked.
did you get permission from Tadesse the station manager to post his picture like this, particularly one that isn’t too flattering and the outcome wasn’t a positive one ?
Tadesse will emerge as a minor hero in my story today. I don’t find the picture unflattering and publicly documenting this matter may make some uncomfortable, but it is the only way to attempt to bring about a change in policy.
Yes but i would just keep in mind that is your opinion of the picture not his. If you found out that he was offended about his picture being used without his permission would you remove it? If you found a picture of you taken while you were at work and then posted online what would your reaction be? From the start we all knew this was a mistake fare. I agree with you that Ethopian handled it poorly and should have communicated more up front, but did you really expect this not to be canceled especially considering past precedent for the airline?
If he asks me to remove it, I will. But this was taken in a public place, by a public official of Ethiopian (in uniform). There is no reasonable expectation of privacy.
–from an arrogant lawyer
“The way this situation unfolded makes me deeply cynical about ever doing any business with Ethiopian again.”
if failing to honor error fares constitutes sufficient grounds to black-list a particular airline, all those who got in on the Myanmar Yangon RGN- Montreal YUL First class deals a few years back should be blacklisting things like SWISS and ANA, 2 of the best airlines in the world.
on a separate note, you WILLFULLY flew to BKK knowing the ticket is in limbo. the energy spent is simply not worth it.
SWISS acted in a vile way concerning the RGN fares — but at least were diplomatic. What I get from Ethiopian is: “If I flush, will you go away.” Apathy and treating this as “business as usual” is no way to win any sort of support.
Agreed, plenty of airlines – including United and others – have similarly failed to honor in such instances. To swear off an airline over this is silly.
I feel bad for your family left behind while you run off on some foolish crusade. The idea that this will somehow turn the tide for others with mistake fares is naïve at best. But hey it gets you more clicks so it’s all good right?!
I am glad to see that you took the efforts. It is always interesting to see what would have happened. Thanks for pushing the issue so we do not need to. But I do say that my family of 3 spend many months traveling and right now are in Spain and leaving for Egypt, Jorden and back to Houston after almost 2 months away. My point is I have some flights that were very very good prices and I could understand someone to call it a mistake price but I took it for what is was a very cheap fare. If I would show up in India for a flight we had and they say that we NOT going to honor it….. I would be devastated . And no way to buy another ticket for the family to fly. So I wish there would be a way that they say anything over $50 domestic and $150 International HAVE TO BE honored.
Example = we flew from CAI to HBE in Business for $49 ea way per person.
This IS NOT a mistake but a very good price. But I guess they can could say so and screw me. So what you did was go out of your way to show a point and was pleased to see this but this is wrong that they did not honor the purchase or offer a coach ticket.
Oh white privilege…smh!!
I Am glad Ethiopian Airlines put their feet down. To hell with you and ur drama seeking behind. You claimed a few days back dat u had backup flight plans incase ethiopian didnt let you board, so why all the antics??
Americans always want it their way….greed has cost you time, energy and peace. Goodluck to ur wife tho….
I’m just stunned at some of these comments. I’m happy that you went and found out what would happen. There will be lessons for others in this incident.
Not sure what lessons there are…. The lesson was pretty clear without pulling this stunt and attempting to bully Ethiopian.
When one party makes a mistake in pricing, and the other side knows or should know it’s an error, the transaction is voidable. Ethiopian made clear they were exercising that option to void, and Matthew knew very well they did so. He refused to accept their multiple offers, and then decided he wanted to go ahead with the trip. He therefore was by no means “stranded” by Ethiopian — he was stranded by his own choices.
As a legal principle, Ethiopian is not responsible for any damages to Matthew as he chose to put himself in this situation. You have a duty to mitigate damages, and by proceeding as if Ethiopian didn’t give several notices, you did not.
Good for Ethiopian for not giving into the bullying tactics by Matthew. Please do not let anyone say this has to do with Matthew being a lawyer. A good lawyer would never brag about this.
Of course, most of the people commenting here would have no problem trying to take advantage of a mistake fare on Ethiopian in the future.
Oh yes, poor Ethiopian. Bullied by the vewy vewy bad man who had so much power over Africa’s largest and most profitable airline. What a stupid retort.
Matthew is NOT doing it for others. He is NOT doing it to teach the airlines a lesson. He is doing it for ONE reason only. To get clicks. I sadly clicked on this and he gained a click. I will be smarter next time as I will ignore his sanctimonious posts and attitude. Ethiopian employees appear to be bullied based on his self serving and give me attitude that comes across in the post. Ethiopian should NOT do anything for him, ever. Grandstanding at its worst. Very sad he posted a picture of the employee also. Not necessary.
Personally, I support Matthew here. I should point a couple of things out here that I have not seen in any of the comments: 1) that Matthew clearly communicated this issue with his wife before taking this trip, and was initially skeptical. That in it of itself is worthy of commending, a crappy husband would have just gone off by himself and not give a damn what his wife thinks. Its pretty clear to me, based on reading his blog for months, that Matthew is not that “crappy” type of husband. I firmly believe that if there was even the slightest hint of hesitation in Heidi’s voice, he would not have gone. Need proof? Look no further than the lufthansa first class trip he canceled two years ago for his wife. A selfish, crappy man would definitely not have canceled that trip. 2) A case and point need to be made. Someone’s gotta do it, who better than a law school graduate and a lawyer who has an extensive knowledge of the airline industry and cares deeply about customers and customer service, not to mention a travel consultant? I don’t know, but not many people come to my mind when I try to answer this question. And, to offer my two cents, its pretty sad that you didn’t get your way. It shows you how unethical people can be sometimes. I don’t think a lawsuit is appropriate as this probably won’t win, but that does not mean that the actions of Ethiopian Airlines are ethical in the least. My advice would be to boycott Ethiopian Airlines and talk to your congressman about making this type of action illegal. Who knows, he could agree with you, and it is most definitely unethical what these airlines are doing. I will even take this issue one step further. If I paid a mistake fair and was honored, I would pay 50% of the original price that the ticket should have been to hold them accountable, and you can hold me to that. Maybe this can be a lesson for the next time an airline decides to take the ethical road. I encourage any of the fellow blog readers to consider this, and this could be the way to promote change over time.
I really appreciate your comment Alan.
Thanks for the write up – I was pulling for you! I’m sure Ethiopian wouldn’t ever be my choice to BKK from YYZ or, anywhere else. :-\
Re: the haters? They are all just bitter because the were all over 5/24 when the CSR came out with the 100k offer…