What a ride! Yesterday morning there was a United mistake fare involving first or business class flights from Europe to North America for as low as $80. Later in the day, they then announced that they were going to (at least attempt to) VOID the mistake fares. The Flyertalk thread reporting on the deal is up over 160 pages (and is a very good read if you have A LOT of time to kill).
The general rule of thumb had always been that if you have a ticket number you would fly (at least transiting the US), though there have been many cases of that not holding up. United either thinks that they can get around this, or is just hoping that not too many will complain.
So whether you got in on this mistake fare or not, here are some reasons you WON’T get in on the next one!
You don’t follow the right people or don’t check travel sites regularly
These mistake fares do NOT last very long at all. The original post in the Flyertalk thread was about 4:30 a.m. EST and the deal lasted till about 9:30 EST – a total of about 5 hours. And this was a LONG time in the world of mistake fares.
Although you can (and should!) follow me on Twitter and Facebook, as well as sign up for my once-daily emails to stay up on the latest travel news, I don’t always concentrate on mistake fares – there are others who are usually faster than me.
I first read about it on View from the Wing, but there were also posts on Twitter from @TheFlightDeal. Travel is Free is also usually a good source for info on deals but I didn’t see anything from him this morning. I understand that not everyone has the time or inclination to spend tons of times reading travel blogs and such, but just understand that might cause you to miss out on the next mistake fare.
You will dilly-dally before deciding to book
There were tons of people posting that they missed out by minutes or even seconds – lots of talk of people being stuck on the final booking screens when United finally killed the deal. There were people who talked about having to check with their spouse / partner / significant other, and when they got around to booking the deal was over. I actually delayed a little bit myself this morning before deciding to book about 8:30 – thankfully I was still able to get things ticketed before the window shutdown
Don’t let that happen to you!
You don’t know where you want to go, when you can go or how much you are willing to pay
This is especially important for those of us with kids. You need to know when they’re out of school, or when you can get a babysitter, or what other commitments you have. I actually made a list of my planned travel for 2015 for just this reason (among some others). Now I know what dates we have other travel planned and when we could fit in additional travel.
I’ve talked before about why I sat out a $200 mistake fare to Asia – I knew that it wouldn’t have worked for my schedule, and I wasn’t super excited about multiple 10+ hour flights in economy.
Remember with really great deals like these, minutes can mean the difference between getting in and watching from the sidelines
You won’t follow up or fight
United unsurprisingly has announced that they are VOIDING all the reservations. Interestingly, they must have gotten their database query wrong, as there have been reports of people with ex-LHR flights, paid for in USD, ALSO being canceled.
I plan to file a DOT complaint but if I lose it, it won’t be the end of the world. Still, I do think it is worth filing( Dominik from Traveling the World has an alternate opinion on that).
I’m reminded of a deal from a few years ago that involved the purchase of a laptop, 10 pieces of anti-virus software and 2 printers. You paid about $1400 for all of that and then filled out literally 47 mail-in rebates. Almost every rebate was initially denied for one reason or the other, and you had to go online and “fight” for each rebate. Once you did that online, within minutes, “magically” your rebate was approved!
Some have suggested that United is doing exactly this – canceling everybody and then reinstating the fares of those who fight it. We shall see!