Remember These Sale Fares Next Time There is a Mistake Fare…

nited Airlines and Delta Air Lines have apparently had an airfare war with each other by pricing incredible deals from the hub airports of each other where you can fly to Europe through May — with the exception of a couple of weeks in late March and early April — for as low as $314.00 round-trip between Chicago and Moscow, including all taxes and fees.

Here are some more deals, all of which are round-trip and include all taxes and fees:

  • Atlanta to Cairo: $612.00
  • San Francisco to Istanbul: $482.00
  • Houston to Oslo: $630.00
  • Washington, D.C. to Dublin: $323.30


I want you to remember these airfares, which are slowly disappearing at the time this article was posted.

Had it not been apparent that there was a supposed airfare war, I would surely have thought that $314.00 for a round-trip flight between Chicago and Moscow was a mistake fare. That airfare seems ridiculously low — right?

The Department of Transportation of the United States is currently reviewing possible revisions of its rules to protect consumers in order to give airlines more opportunities to renege on mistake fares.

That is all well and dandy; but how is a consumer supposed to know whether or not an airfare is legitimate or an error? Not everyone reads the articles posted at BoardingArea or participates at Milepoint or FlyerTalk. I keep hearing about how small is the community of frequent fliers when compared to the overall number of airline passengers in general, which would suggest that frequent fliers “gaming” the system would not have a profound adverse impact on airlines when taking advantage of error fares.

If you saw an airfare for $314.00 between the United States and Europe, would you purchase it; or would you balk and consider the possibility of being unethical about purchasing it? Would you spend time researching it to ensure that the airfare was indeed legitimate and not an error?

While one clothing chain once proclaimed that “an educated consumer is our best customer”, to what extent should a customer educate himself or herself to be fair to a company when patronizing it? There are companies within the travel industry alone which customers tend to feel deal in borderline shady practices when conducting business, which can erode trust.

I am not by any means suggesting that an ethical consumer should lower his or her standards to conduct business in an equally questionable manner; but aren’t customers already overburdened with the responsibility of knowing as many of the rules, terms, conditions and laws as possible in order to protect themselves — never mind the interests of a company whose purpose is to profit?

The lines are especially blurred when legitimate airfares can at times be a better deal than a mistake fare.

We all commit errors. Speaking for myself, I personally take responsibility for my errors — such as when I mistakenly proclaimed that you should not be fooled that “lower” airfares were coming soon because the House of Representatives of the United States “overwhelmingly approved bipartisan legislation to return transparency to U.S. airfare advertising and providing greater clarity for consumers by allowing advertisements for passenger air travel to state the base airfare” and separately disclose any taxes and fees imposed by the government and the total cost of travel. My mistake was that the Senate of the United States did not vote on that legislation, meaning that the transparency issue was not going to change soon — rendering that article moot.

Similarly, airlines need to take responsibility for preventing mistake airfares from occurring — rather than having the rules imposed on airlines by the Department of Transportation revised. It is not as though airfare mistakes are so prevalent that airlines need that special protection; and the commercial aviation industry is substantially healthier financially today than it was ten years ago.

I am not against an airline profiting — far from it. It is a business entity; and it should profit as much as possible. However, you should not be burdened with trying to figure out whether an airfare is legitimate or an error — especially when airlines purposely stage low airfares such as within the past week. If you see an excellent airfare, I believe that you should be afforded the same opportunities and protections as you would with any airfare.

As I said, remember these airfares. Bookmark this article or any article which contains information about these airfares in case you purchase a mistake fare in the future and encounter problems.

What are your thoughts?

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