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[PREM FARE GONE] UA: NCL-EWR 600 DKK (mistaken fare) DOT ruled; see wiki for link

Old Feb 11, 15, 11:49 am
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Last edit by: drewguy
If you've never gone through this process read this before posting!
Note: Please consider that with high probability, United is monitoring this thread, so please pay attention on what you post!

DOT Investigation UpdatesNews Media Updates:

-------

According to USA Today, Ben Mutzabaugh:
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.
Note that United has also accidentally cancelled "legitimate" tickets paid for in USD, purchased in USD from LHR... Please check your other tickets if purchased today to ensure they were not unilaterally cancelled.

However, there is no chance at all that you can have your tickets re-instated if you complain to DOT on the basis of DOT rule 399.88:
399.88 Prohibition on post-purchase price increase.

(a) It is an unfair and deceptive practice within the meaning of 49 U.S.C. 41712 for any seller of scheduled air transportation within, to or from the United States, or of a tour (i.e., a combination of air transportation and ground or cruise accommodations), or tour component (e.g., a hotel stay) that includes scheduled air transportation within, to or from the United States, to increase the price of that air transportation, tour or tour component to a consumer, including but not limited to an increase in the price of the seat, an increase in the price for the carriage of passenger baggage, or an increase in an applicable fuel surcharge, after the air transportation has been purchased by the consumer, except in the case of an increase in a government-imposed tax or fee. A purchase is deemed to have occurred when the full amount agreed upon has been paid by the consumer.
Form for filing DOT complaint. File complaint as soon as your ticket is cancelled.

Link to PDF of enforcement bodies for European customers affected. File complaint as soon as your ticket is cancelled.


Tips for DOT Complaint:
  • File on DOT for every ticket number affected.
  • If you have one reservation with four people traveling (four tickets) file 4 DOT complaints, one per ticket.
  • If you have separate reservations, file a DOT complaint for each.
  • The DOT complaint website may take several minutes to load, depending on demand.
  • When you go to upload a file, be careful as it will reset all your radio buttons. So, if you want a copy of the complaint, make sure you double check that "Yes" is still selected before submitting, especially if you upload a file.

Template For Complaint:
United has unilaterally cancelled my ticket without my consent.

Facts:
1. The ticket was ticketed (had a ticket number).
2. I received a confirmation number, ticket number, and emails stating both
3. The ticket was paid for and my credit card charged.

United must reinstate the ticket within its original cabin. This trip is for travel TO the United States.

At no time during the booking process was any other fare than the Danish Krone equivalent displayed. As a reasonable, prudent consumer, I believed I was paying the price displayed to me on the website. United never sent or displayed the equivalent fare in any other currency.

Trip Details
Ticket #: 016XXXXXXXXXX
PNR: XXXXXX
Routing: LHR-EWR-LAX-HNL

Attachments: Attached is a document showing the ticket, routing, and providing proof that the reservation was ticketed.

Filename: Cancelled - UA Reservation - LHR-EWR-LAX-HNL - XXXXXX - 016XXXXXXXXXX.pdf

+-------------------------------------------------------+
| Relevant Law |
| http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/14/399.88 |
+-------------------------------------------------------+
399.88 Prohibition on post-purchase price increase.

(a) It is an unfair and deceptive practice within the meaning of 49 U.S.C. 41712 for any seller of scheduled air transportation within, to or from the United States, or of a tour (i.e., a combination of air transportation and ground or cruise accommodations), or tour component (e.g., a hotel stay) that includes scheduled air transportation within, to or from the United States, to increase the price of that air transportation, tour or tour component to a consumer, including but not limited to an increase in the price of the seat, an increase in the price for the carriage of passenger baggage, or an increase in an applicable fuel surcharge, after the air transportation has been purchased by the consumer, except in the case of an increase in a government-imposed tax or fee. A purchase is deemed to have occurred when the full amount agreed upon has been paid by the consumer.

+-------------------------------------------------------+
| Relevant FAQ |
| http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/rules/EAPP_2_FAQ.pdf |
+-------------------------------------------------------+
Does the prohibition on post-purchase price increases in section 399.88(a) apply in the situation where a carrier mistakenly offers an airfare due to a computer problem or human error and a consumer purchases the ticket at that fare before the carrier is able to fix the mistake?

Section 399.88(a) states that it is an unfair and deceptive practice for any seller of scheduled air transportation within, to, or from the United States, or of a tour or tour component that includes scheduled air transportation within, to, or from the United States, to increase the price of that air transportation to a consumer after the air transportation has been purchased by the consumer, except in the case of a government-imposed tax or fee and only if the passenger is advised of a possible increase before purchasing a ticket. A purchase occurs when the full amount agreed upon has been paid by the consumer. Therefore, if a consumer purchases a fare and that consumer receives confirmation (such as a confirmation email and/or the purchase appears on their credit card statement or online account summary) of their purchase, then the seller of air transportation cannot increase the price of that air transportation to that consumer, even when the fare is a mistake.
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Tips for retrieving your ticket number:
  1. paste(right click copy link location first) following link into your web browser
  2. change XXXXXX next to COPNR= for your reservation number and LASTNAME next to LN= for you SURNAME
  3. go to the webpage address you have just created

https://www.united.com/web/en-US/app...NRCD=2/11/2015


Originally Posted by MatthewLAX
Originally Posted by MatthewLAX View Post
R E L A X

Breathe deep.

Congrats on all who got in.

Now comes the fun part.

1. Discovery - mistake fare is posted on FT. Novices frantically checks how much vacation time they have and if the dates of availability mesh with their schedules. Experienced FTers just book it and worry about contacting spouses or their boss later. Word spreads like wildfire.

2. Excitement - Tickets purchased, confirmation emails received and dates of travel shared with other FTers. Discussions of what to see and do and where to stay crop up in other threads. Novices contact source to change seats or inquire about upgrades, Seasoned FTers sit back and enjoy reading the discussion threads.

3. Stress Stage 1 - Concern over paper ticket delivery - Novices Frantically check otheFedEx website every few hours, constant monitoring of driveway for FedEx truck. Seasoned FT veterans sit back and relax.

4. Glee and happiness - Paper tickets in hand, vacation request submitted, spouses finally informed, hotel reservations made and bragging to friends and co-workers begins. Both novices and experts get very excited.

5. Stress Stage 2 - Rumors of fare not being honored, discussion threads about the airline and ticketing agency ensue. Rumors crop up like crabgrass at this stage. Many FTers begin to worry excessively about whether or not the trip will happen. Novices make non-refundable and financial committments to their trip. Seasoned FTers make mixed drinks (and maybe a sandwich) and is patient.

6. Reality Check - Accurate information is obtained - usually takes place a week to 10 days after mistake fare is published. Confirmed information from the source as to whether or not tickets will be honored.

7a. Pure Joy (Icelandair style- Fare is Honored) - Lots of happy people, FT threads on shared information regarding hotels, restaurants, tours, etc. Jealousy from others sets in. First "FT guinea pigs" embark, post confirmation threads that all is ok.


7b Hostile Feelings (Copa Airlines Style - fare is not honored) - Many angry and disappointed FTers. Refunds are issued. Novices have multiple discussion threads of lawsuits and hostile correspondence, FT pros mutter "c'est la vie" and look for the next fare mistake.

8a Success (Honored) - Trip Report thread becomes very active


Freedom of Information Act Request
File #2015-147, Office of the Secretary of Transportation - Receipt acknowledged 3/13/15

http://www.dot.gov/individuals/foia/office-secretary-foia-information

Relevant excerpt from my request on 2/24/15. There no need for multiple requests for the same thing, though feel free to request more or different information obviously. I'll post any updates as I get them.

"Under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S. C. subsection 552, I am requesting access to any and all records of correspondence, including electronic, between anyone working for, or on the behalf of, United Airlines and its subsidiaries, and with anyone working for, or on the behalf of, the Department of Transportation; specifically this would include only the date range beginning on February 11th, 2015 through and including February 24th, 2015.

In addition, I am requesting access to any and all internal records and correspondence in relation to coming to the decision made on February 23rd, 2015 regarding the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings Determination Regarding United Airlines Mistaken Fare, with the exception of any of the consumer submitted complaints via phone, email, website, or letter. Specifically, this would be any records beginning on February 11th, 2015 through and including February 24th, 2015."
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[PREM FARE GONE] UA: NCL-EWR 600 DKK (mistaken fare) DOT ruled; see wiki for link

Old Feb 19, 15, 3:59 am
  #4516  
 
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Originally Posted by GUWonder
DOT was well aware of websites/social media/blogs peddling very cheap fares well before the start of this decade.

The airlines getting away with dishonoring the likes of some of the RGN tickets and even the UA 4 mile tickets has emboldened the airlines to consider more frequently dishonor cheap tickets. The RGN appellants aren't responsible for this situation, as the airlines were already intent upon, and lobbying for, this DOT rule to be scrapped/changed well before the RGN fares had hit.

Give the airlines an inch, and they will try to take a mile. This gets to why the US DOT must make the airlines serving the US to follow the letter of the rule as long as the rule exists.
That's really the question. Does the DOT consider its mistake fares rule a bright line rule that it must enforce in all circumstances in order to protect consumers or does the DOT believe in some cases the rule should not be enforced, for example, because it's mainly helping a small class who search for mistake fares?

I doubt the DOT subscribes to the theory that airlines are evil creatures that unfairly take advantage of consumers and enforcing the rule is necessary to redress the balance.
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Old Feb 19, 15, 4:01 am
  #4517  
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Originally Posted by richarddd
I doubt the DOT subscribes to the theory that airlines are evil creatures that unfairly take advantage of consumers and enforcing the rule is necessary to redress the balance.
Or maybe they do... do you think they like the extra work?
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Old Feb 19, 15, 4:06 am
  #4518  
 
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Originally Posted by RTW1
Or maybe they do... do you think they like the extra work?
It probably gives meaning to their lives.

Consider the DOT statement others have posted: "The Enforcement Office has become concerned that increasingly mistaken fares are getting posted on frequent-flyer community blogs and traveldeal sites, and individuals are purchasing these tickets in bad faith and not on the mistaken belief that a good deal is now available. We solicit comment on how best to address the problem of individual bad actors while still ensuring that airlines and other sellers of air transportation are required to honor mistaken fares that were reasonably relied upon by consumers."

They have not, however, done anything with this, so far as I know.
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Old Feb 19, 15, 4:11 am
  #4519  
 
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Originally Posted by RTW1
You must have missed the fact that all other currencies than DKK were displaying the correct fares in those currencies.... and that's a bit hard to do when the base fare is wrong .
They all start with the exact same fare in GBP (which any normal airline would have charged anyway, no need to convert to DKK, credit card companies do that all the time).
I haven't missed that at all, this is clearly a Point of Sale issue, airlines can have different fares loaded dependant on POS.

EX UK flights POS Denmark, Mr fatfingers turns 7,780 into 7.78p

If this was just a currency rate error why were flights EX Denmark showing the correct pricing in GBP, I looked for just that option on Uniteds site and they were being correctly calculated.

Last edited by rachcollins; Feb 19, 15 at 4:18 am
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Old Feb 19, 15, 4:13 am
  #4520  
 
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Originally Posted by rachcollins
I'm just curious as to why United is so eager to claim the fares were correctly filed, and blame the miscalculation on the exchange rate used, when the exact opposite appears to be the case.
We don't know about the contracts they have with this 3rd-party-company, maybe UA's lawyer just wants to be prepared to put all costs on them or their insurance.
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Old Feb 19, 15, 4:23 am
  #4521  
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Originally Posted by rachcollins
I haven't missed that at all, this is clearly a Point of Sale issue, airlines can have different fares loaded dependant on POS.
In general they don't.... they have different prices depending on point of departure.
Stop digging the whole deeper... the eco fare also supports a faulty currency exchange, as does the UA communication.
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Old Feb 19, 15, 4:41 am
  #4522  
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Originally Posted by RTW1
In general they don't.... they have different prices depending on point of departure.
Stop digging the whole deeper... the eco fare also supports a faulty currency exchange, as does the UA communication.
Well, why don't you try this: go to AA.com, enter a country in Europe as your location and try to book a flight, say, MIA-DFW.

Then do the same with the US as your location and try to book the same flight.

One of the two will be quite a bit more expensive.

Another example: try booking an intra-Asia flight on SQ/MH/etc. with a European travel agent.
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Old Feb 19, 15, 4:45 am
  #4523  
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The "individual bad actors" line seems to be DOT relying upon airline lobbyist representations.

Originally Posted by RTW1
Or maybe they do... do you think they like the extra work?
I don't think they mind the extra work. It provides an increased opportunity to benefit from the revolving door to the corporate/corporate services world; and if overtime is involved, then the extra hours may be bankable to cash out for vacation and/or to use in conjunction with resignation/retirement time when they may buck over to work for a non-government paycheck.
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Old Feb 19, 15, 5:42 am
  #4524  
 
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Originally Posted by jms_uk
How does this work with Economy fares [3 digits, and no commas]?
It still applies in exactly the same way, the code used to pull the fare price used in the currency conversion may haved used a decimal mark instead of a delimiter.

So XX delimiter XXX decimal mark XX has been converted into XX decimal mark XXXXX

10,000.00 converts 10.00000 ie Ten Pounds and 00,100.00 converts into 00.10000 ie Ten Pence

Last edited by rachcollins; Feb 19, 15 at 6:37 am
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Old Feb 19, 15, 6:03 am
  #4525  
 
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All, I've been reading all the comments and I just want to point out one thing... When I booked my Danish Fare, although I had options at 546 DKK for the route I wanted to fly, there were other options at rates of 30K+ DKK, so if it was in fact a conversion rate mistake, how come some flights were dirt cheap while others were at the correct price (same route, same currency, same airlines, etc..), makes no sense to me??
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Old Feb 19, 15, 6:05 am
  #4526  
 
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Originally Posted by rachcollins
00,100.00 converts into 00.10000 ie Ten Pence
Who files fares [or writes hundreds] like that?
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Old Feb 19, 15, 6:18 am
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Originally Posted by jms_uk
Who files fares [or writes hundreds] like that?
Probably United!
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Old Feb 19, 15, 6:23 am
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Originally Posted by jms_uk
Who files fares [or writes hundreds] like that?
The fare doesn't need to have been filed like that, it could be a coding issue, and I suppose it could be at either end, so the DKK 48,000.00 becomes DKK 48.00000.

I'm just pointing out that the calculation is out by X1000 and I'm suggesting that a decimal mark being inserted in place of a delimiter also results in everything being out by the same margin.

I'm not saying that it's impossible for the exchange rate used to be out by the same factor, just that it's far less likely IMHO for that to be the reason here.

In which of these examples is the mistake more obvious

48.000.00 vs 48,000.00

or

.0100621 vs 10.0621
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Old Feb 19, 15, 6:24 am
  #4529  
 
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Originally Posted by DaBom
All, I've been reading all the comments and I just want to point out one thing... When I booked my Danish Fare, although I had options at 546 DKK for the route I wanted to fly, there were other options at rates of 30K+ DKK, so if it was in fact a conversion rate mistake, how come some flights were dirt cheap while others were at the correct price (same route, same currency, same airlines, etc..), makes no sense to me??
That is a very interesting point and would contradict UA's claim regarding correctly filled fares.
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Old Feb 19, 15, 6:30 am
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My pending charges have been dropped now. Guess I'm out of luck in the unlikely event that the DOT decides to rule against United.
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