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etihad-logoOn Christmas morning, the travel blogging world was all abuzz because Etihad had a cheap fare sale.  Often, it can be hard to judge whether a super cheap airline fare is just an aggressive sale or a “mistake fare”.  In this case, prices were as low as $187 for New York to Abu Dhabi, and $277 for New York to Johannesburg, South Africa.

(SEE ALSO: 5 steps to get you ready for the next mistake fare sale!)

Personally, I decided to sit this one out, but I know many people picked up a ticket or two.  US Department of Transportaton regulations generally require companies to honor published fares as long as you get ticketed.  In this particular case, Etihad has said that it will honor them, because it is “the right thing to do” (regardless of the DOT making them do it anyway.  Though the cynic in me feels the need to point out that it’s always easy to do “the right thing” when you have no choice in the matter :-D)

Forbes had an interesting article yesterday saying that the DOT told Etihad it had to honor the fares, but that it was looking at possibly changing the rules.  A few quotes from the article

But the DOT is reconsidering that requirement because of the existence of all the websites and bloggers who, in the words of travel writer Joe Brancatelli, “live and die for this stuff.”  If an airline makes a mistake, it can become known extremely rapidly to tens of thousands of people.

“The DOT has said that it never meant the regulation to handcuff an airline when it was obviously a mistaken fare,” he said. “Now the DOT is threading the needle, trying to figure out when they should allow airlines not to honor mistaken fares.”

However, last May, the department “issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that, among other things, solicits comment on how to best address the problem of individuals, some of whom are very well-informed and sophisticated with respect to air travel, who opportunistically purchase very cheap tickets knowing that the fares are likely the product of a computer programming or other error,” the spokeswoman said.

Read the full article at Forbes.com.

What do you think?  Did you get in on the super cheap fares last week?


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