Have you booked today’s Mistake Fare in First Class? See what United is doing

Posted on February 11, 2015 by in Mistake Fares

I'm sure many of you have booked one of the amazing first class fares for 600 DKK ($91) this morning.

When I started this morning, the fare was already gone, so no need for a quick posting. That's the issue working from the West Coast – sleep time falls right into the early morning East Coast hours and most of the day has already happened when I get to my morning espresso at 7.30AM. Only Hawaii is worse; almost all other time zones are easier to work with.

In case you missed the frantic rush this morning, United offered fares as low as $51 from London to almost anywhere in North America in first class. This happened on United.com when opened in Danish.

Partner flights would work as well, as long as the fare originated from the United Kingdom. After about 4 hours, the magic was over and United was stuck with 1,000+ bookings which certainly won't cover the cost of operations. You may remember the Burma mistake fares, which allowed yours truly a year of hassle-free premium cabin travel. Almost all of the fares of that mistake (which was alive several days) were eventually honored.

United had sold flights to Hong Kong for 4 miles in 2013 – these flights were not honored and all tickets were cancelled after a couple of days. Only the lucky travelers who picked up immediately got their tickets re-instated.

Just a couple of minutes ago, United spoke out:

"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."

There is a DOT rule in place that prohibits the unilateral cancellation of tickets (which applies only for tickets that touch US soil at some point). The idea of a § 399.88 Prohibition on post-purchase price increase is so that consumers aren't deceived into purchasing tickets which are then repriced later on.

With this mistake fare, it was a bit more complicated, since you needed to use the Danish part of United.com, then switch currencies and point of sale to get the price to show. So it isn't a clear-cut case that you can go to a US website (e.g. Expedia.com), type in your dates and expect the tickets to be honored.

It's gonna be interesting how this develops. Let us know what you bought!

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