This week marks the 4 year anniversary of the first and quite possibly the best mistake fare I’ve ever seen. I thought I’d take a look back at what those of us in the travel hacking community affectionately called “The Great Dane”
The mistake fare
On February 11, 2015, I woke up to find several posts on the front page of Boarding Area regarding a mistake fare. United.com was selling FIRST CLASS tickets from Europe to the US for about ~$90. The only “trick” was that you had to set your billing country to Denmark to get the fare.
While I had never taken advantage of a mistake fare before, I did book 2 tickets from London to Cincinnati and then back to London
Total cost – 1,182 DKK, or about $170 USD (!)
United strikes back
I don’t know how many people booked these fares in the few hours the deal was up, but I’d imagine it was in the thousands if not more. Later in the day, United announced that they were going to (attempt to?) void these fares.
We will void the bookings for those who purchased tickets as a result of a third-party currency conversion error. http://t.co/KBaXBJCwoQ
— United (@united) February 11, 2015
From the United press release,
United is voiding the bookings of several thousand individuals who were attempting to take advantage of an error a third-party software provider made when it applied an incorrect currency exchange rate, despite United having properly filed its fares. Most of these bookings were for travel originating in the United Kingdom, and the level of bookings made with Danish Kroner as the local currency was significantly higher than normal during the limited period that customers made these bookings.
Recourse from the DOT?
Some people complained to the US Department of Transportation, alleging that United should have to honor the fares that they published, but after receiving the thousands (or more) complaints, the DOT declined to act – the US DOT press release says
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings (Enforcement Office) has completed its review of the mistaken fares that appeared on United Airlines’ (United) Denmark website on February 11, 2015. During the past two weeks, thousands of consumers who purchased tickets from United’s Denmark website at the mistaken fare levels have contacted the Enforcement Office asking that United be required to honor those fares based on the Department’s rule against post-purchase price increases of scheduled air transportation.
After a careful review of the matter, including the thousands of submissions from consumers and information from United, the Enforcement Office has decided that it will not take action against United for not honoring the tickets.
Here is the full press release (PDF) from the US Department of Transportation
There was much talk in the aftermath of the Great Dane mistake fare, including whether bloggers should be calling them “mistake fares” and how that may have played a role in the US DOT’s decision to not make United honor the sale.
If this was your introduction to hot fare sales (be they mistake or not), I also wrote a few articles to help you take advantage of future fare sales – they don’t last long!
How about you? Did you book one of these tickets? What’s the best mistake fare I mean fare sale you’ve ever seen?