Update: United Airlines Says They Will NOT Honor Mistake Fares!

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Yesterday, thousands of people booked an amazing mistake fare on the United Airlines website.  Folks got Business and First Class tickets from Europe to the US for incredibly cheap prices, often under $50 1-way.

United Airlines caught wind of the glitch mid-morning and promptly shut down the pricing error (which occurred when folks set Denmark and Danish kroner as the country and currency of purchase).

Now, United Airlines says they will NOT honor the tickets, and that all reservations made with the mistake fare will be voided.

Update United Airlines Says They Will NOT Honor Mistake Fares

Access Denied! United Airlines Shuts Down Mistake Fare, Voids Cheap Tickets

I warned that tickets booked through this deal might be cancelled, but it’s always worth a try because sometimes mistake fares ARE honored.  For example, the Christmas Day error fares to the Middle East, Africa, and Asia were honored by Etihad.

What To Do Now?

It would have been great if United Airlines had let folks keep their bookings, but sometimes this happens.  I count myself lucky if I’m able to book a mistake fare that sticks!

This situation was a little more disappointing because many of us were actually ticketed and confirmed before the deal was pulled off the website!  Talk about getting your hopes up! 🙁

Update United Airlines Says They Will NOT Honor Mistake Fares

So Long, Farewell, United Airlines First Class With Lie-Flat Seats, 6-Course Meals, Champagne…..<Sniff!>

If you did book a flight (and were ticketed and had your credit card charged), you probably won’t be able to see your reservation anymore when you check United Airlines’ website.

I’m NOT sure how long it will take to refund your credit card.  But most folks should still have the transaction in pending status so I suspect it will be removed within a few days.

That said, there are plenty of frustrated folks on Flyertalk who are filing complaints with the Department of Transportation.

Because their rules say that any ticket booked to or from the US can’t be changed in price after someone has paid for it in full (and many of us were ticketed and had our credit cards charged today).

Update United Airlines Says They Will NOT Honor Mistake Fares

Some Folks Are Filing Complaints Against United Airlines With the DOT

My view is that this is all part of the ride in our miles and points hobby.  It’s nice when these fares are honored, but we shouldn’t expect them to be.  And there will always be more mistake and low fares to find and (try to) book!

Remember to follow Million Mile Secrets on Facebook and Twitter – that way you won’t miss the next mistake fare or seat sale!

Bottom Line

United Airlines will NOT honor the cheap Europe to US mistake fares many folks booked yesterday.

It’s disappointing (but not unexpected).  Mistake fares aren’t always honored.

If you were ticketed, keep an eye on your credit card bill and the charge should be reversed or disappear in the next few days.  Some might consider filing a DOT complaint (but I won’t).

I’ll always report the best fare deals – so remember to follow Million Mile Secrets on Facebook and Twitter.

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14 responses to “Update: United Airlines Says They Will NOT Honor Mistake Fares!

  1. Filing a complaint with the DOT on this I feel is very petty. Yes, they are a business just trying to make money, and yes we are consumers, just trying to get pay the least amount of money. But when it gets to the point where you are filing complaints with the government in order to punish United’s correction to what was obviously on a honest mistake on their part, that’s a bit much.

    When you say you wont file a complaint, but then place a link to DOT complaint form on your website, you are being kind of double-faced, because you are indeed supporting going after United on this.

    Travel-hacking is founded on tacking advantage of credit cards and airlines; I do some of it, and don’t think it’s unfair because it’s all business and taking advantage of loopholes is how the world works. But at some point you cross a line, and I think it becomes unethical. Filing a complaint with the DOT on this is being a crybaby, and lacks honor. Don’t respond with crap like “honest people made travel plans with this and now they have to change their plans”. Crazy fairs like that are obvious mistakes. At some point you have to cut the airlines some slack.

  2. All these liars on FlyerTalk who said they live in Denmark filing complaints with the DOT? Let them file their complaints with an agency in their own country. In Danish. Look, I have no issue with trying for a mistake fare, but have no sympathy at all for those who engage in fraudulent behavior then go whining to DOT to make the airlines do what they wish. This outcome was totally predictable and I’m behind United’s decision.

  3. I wonder if any daring soul managed to book a same day departure and at least get half way somewhere, as they ticketed it very quickly so there wasn’t anything stopping you doing that. Their response was quick but slower than the time needed to get to an airport for a same day flight 🙂

  4. I don’t think mistake fares such as this should ever be honored.

    People, and businesses, are allowed to make mistakes. I believe it is unethical to try to take advantage of such a mistake, and anyone who complains when the airline refuses to honor one is a greedy piece of self-interested garbage.

    Just my opinion, of course.

  5. I agree with DaveS. In this case everyone outside of Denmark who took advantage of this pricing was probably committing several types of fraud.. You bloggers who encouraged it probably aided and abetted multiple cases of fraud. And you’ve given the authorities all the evidence they need to go after you. I love your site and blog, but intentionally misrepresenting where you live and the country of your billing address of your credit card to obtain a fare below that to which you are entitled is unethical, dishonest and fraudulent.

  6. I understand the disappointment of those who booked and had their tickets cancelled. However, in order to get the fare, the majority indicated that they were in Denmark when they indeed were not. They misled the airline, seeking to get a fare to which they were not entitled – so I see no basis for a DOT complaint. I do hope the fares of the few individuals who are based in Denmark (including those who first found the fare?) have their tickets honoured.
    I have to say that it is far more likely that the fare would have been honoured had their been but a few dozen people who took advantage of the mistake fare. Once all the bloggers posted this it was inevitable that the flurry of activity (“thousands of tickets sold” ) would capture the attention of the airlines and the deal would be shut down. I haven’t seen posts from any of the major bloggers acknowledging their role in this.

  7. Will UA confiscate Mp accts for fraud?

  8. I agree with the ethics-based positions already posted. It would be fantastic if ALL behaved ethically. Enough said there.

    However, the judgmental and condemning feedback to the major bloggers, this forum included, probably does not motivate them to be open/transparent with the wide-range of ethical opportunities out there for cost-optimized travel. I won’t pretend to know the ethics of all bloggers, but Daraius has always seemed above reproach. I for one very much appreciate his insights and do not question his moral compass.

  9. Haven’t filed a DOT complaint yet (and may not do that) but it’s disappointing how many United apologists/astroturfers suddenly popped up on blogs. Dan (of DansDeals) outed one person who posted under 12 different aliases from same IP.

  10. I have mixed feelings on this. On the one hand, if the law says the airline can’t cancel a fare that’s already been ticketed and charged, it seems like United should be out of luck here, rather than the purchasers. On the other hand, because of the whole Denmark aspect, this was an obvious true “mistake” fare that I personally didn’t expect to be honored. I think something with like the Etihad fares, you are never really sure if it is really a mistake or a flash sale to generate publicity/fill up flights that might have been otherwise empty. You win some, you lose some!

  11. I disagree with most of the ethics based comments here that defend UA. I did not purchase on of these tickets but I see no problem with a customer paying in whatever currency the customer prefers.

    The airline industry seems to operate in an environment where the airline never pays when they make a mistake, but if the customer slips up he or she better break out the checkbook.

    I also agree with those on Flyertalk that the DOT complaints are justified. The DOT regulations state that the airline is required to honor fares which are ticketed. United ticketed those fares and now they should have to bear the cost which is exactly what the law requires. It is one thing for people to disagree with the regulations and advocate for changing them but to simply let United break the law because they would lose money if they complied is preposterous.

  12. Kudos for taking the high road on this, D. Other bloggers are displaying pathetic behavior in their self-entitled frenzies but your attitude sums up that of many of your readers.

  13. The problem with those who feel compassion for United making honest errors is that the legacy airlines don’t have a great record of taking compassion on customers who make honest errors. Examples include calling them up one minute after making a booking that got the dates correct but the month wrong and not being able to change them, or buying a ticket to Portland Maine instead of Portland Oregon and wanting to change it (with the difference in fare paid or refunded). There are countless other scenarios where the airlines say…tough! You clicked confirm.

    If these airlines were more considerate of these honest mistakes, I would understand United voiding these tickets. Because of their terms and conditions they win in many case of error, be it their own error or the customers error.

  14. I did not partake in the mistake fare, I wish I did! My opinion, UA should honor it. Yes, it is a mistake fare. Their system does not have enough safe guards to prevent the mistake from happening. That’s their cost of doing business. I am telling you that if today all of you are buying an item from say Amazon, or Microsoft, or Apple, or insert other online retailer here, then after all the charges are settled, if the seller came back at you and cancel your order, you would go after them with a pitchfork.

    Where will this end if UA were given a pass? The next time UA cancels a flight, due to mechanical problem with let’s say the airframe, they could say ‘Sorry we are cancelling your flight and not giving you any refund, because Boeing/Airbus/Embraer messed up the airframe’. We should let UA take responsibilities for running their business with not enough safeguards.