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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:

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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 24, 15, 11:24 pm
  #5116  
 
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Originally Posted by elva
Did you read the thread at all? This is exactly what happened, some US FTalkers were in CPH, booked flights from LHR to the US, didn't have to set their location as Denmark - it was already (and correctly) done by United.com. DOT says they are NOT covered.
No need for hyperbole.

If you have read this thread like I have - - at least one poster has commented they are going back to the DOT for further clarification on what "...when the fare offer is not marketed to consumers in the United States" means. (bolding mine)

Marketed to consumers living and residing in the US?
Marketed to consumers in the US who are US citizens?
Marketed to consumers in the US, regardless where they live?
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Old Feb 24, 15, 11:26 pm
  #5117  
 
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Originally Posted by 110pgl
To clarify my point... I believe the DOT is saying it must be marketed to US citizens. So if as a US citizen, you go to UA and put in your correct information... the fare would be covered by DOT jurisdiction. (regardless of start and stop points)
If someone is a US citizen and has a billing address abroad or if someone is a non-US citizen, buying a ticket from an US airlines website, traveling on a US airline to the US, then DOT doesn't have jurisdiction? Does this also mean I can skip the TSA inspection if I purchase my flight on websites "not marketed to US citizens"?

Originally Posted by 110pgl
But if you manipulate the system by putting in false information, DOT will not support you.
I don't believe they made any distinction between manipulating (or being manipulated it seems as UA.com defaults billing to ip) and not-manipulating or false and not-false information.

Originally Posted by 110pgl
Taking a step back here - Really, how can anyone honestly expect the DOT to support UA covering tickets that were bought by intentionally putting in false information?
Is expecting DOT to enforce DOT rules that far fetched?
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Old Feb 24, 15, 11:48 pm
  #5118  
 
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Originally Posted by 110pgl
No need for hyperbole.
Apparently it worked, as you completely retracted from your former position with your 'clarification'. Glad to see you can admit being wrong.

Last edited by elva; Feb 25, 15 at 12:46 am
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Old Feb 25, 15, 12:06 am
  #5119  
 
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Originally Posted by MatthewLAX
I wrote up some thoughts on this in a story entitled Legal Analysis of DOT Decision to Back United on Cancelled Mistake Fares in which I try to put forward my best argument for why UA should honor the fares.

(caution, per FT rules I must mention that this is a link to my personal blog)

Moot to a point, but there is still potentially a legal argument that could be made...

I have no dog in this fight in the sense of personal cancelled tickets, but it does greatly concern me that the DOT was so sloppy in its analysis. Perhaps you will find my analysis sloppy as well!
Interesting point of view, thank you for sharing.

Perhaps even more interesting that the very few more "intellectual" contributions in this thread, don't get much or any attention .
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Old Feb 25, 15, 12:34 am
  #5120  
 
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The flaw in the "not marketed to the US" argument is that the DOT are saying that UA meant to offer the fare in Denmark. And if they meant to offer it in Denmark then they had to offer it to all other EU residents.
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Old Feb 25, 15, 1:49 am
  #5121  
 
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Originally Posted by SCSA
The flaw in the "not marketed to the US" argument is that the DOT are saying that UA meant to offer the fare in Denmark. And if they meant to offer it in Denmark then they had to offer it to all other EU residents.
Praise the lord, another more intellectual kind of posting :-: ! Thank you! I'm not cynic, just really glad that at least some are able to get the point and cut to the chase.

Btw, mind the statement about the DANISH website in DOT's communication @:-).
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Old Feb 25, 15, 2:07 am
  #5122  
 
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Originally Posted by Epicura
Btw, mind the statement about the DANISH website in DOT's communication @:-).
What exactly should we mind about that statement? That it's false, since such a website doesn't exist?
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Old Feb 25, 15, 2:37 am
  #5123  
 
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DOT considers it as a EU website...
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Old Feb 25, 15, 6:31 am
  #5124  
 
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Originally Posted by elva
Actually the slippery slope argument is very sound. That is not a hypothesis, we are already sliding down the slope because with this ruling DOT already allowed UA to cancel $100 coach tickets (some didn't bother to book C or F) and $1500 C/F tickets (some chose more expensive destinations). There was no exception for these tickets.
This is a very important issue that has not gotten enough attention. There were several situations by which it was reasonable for people to believe they had booked a valid, not-obviously-mistake fare -- someone in Denmark and/or paying with a Denmark-issued credit card and purchasing one of the $1500 C tickets is the "poster child" for this. If this is not the precise situation the DOT regulations were designed to protect, what is?
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Old Feb 25, 15, 6:41 am
  #5125  
 
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As I mentioned previously, mh, I was also looking at a fare last weekend LHR-MUC return in J for 999DKK. It was well within the "bargain" range for European business class but not outlandishly cheap. Would I have been a thief for booking?

There are a lot of borderline situations where UAL can decide they didn't sell enough tickets in flash sale to meet costs and decide that they were mistakes.
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Old Feb 25, 15, 7:37 am
  #5126  
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Originally Posted by mh4ll
This is a very important issue that has not gotten enough attention. There were several situations by which it was reasonable for people to believe they had booked a valid, not-obviously-mistake fare -- someone in Denmark and/or paying with a Denmark-issued credit card and purchasing one of the $1500 C tickets is the "poster child" for this. If this is not the precise situation the DOT regulations were designed to protect, what is?
I was seeing 4000-7000 DKK prices on United.com at the time where people were able to book these Great Dane tickets. Some of those were booked and cancelled too. That is in $600 to $1100 range if converted today.

The DOT has invited the airlines to further fleece US consumers wherever we may be when buying tickets to fly to/from the US.
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Old Feb 25, 15, 7:50 am
  #5127  
 
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Originally Posted by mh4ll
This is a very important issue that has not gotten enough attention. There were several situations by which it was reasonable for people to believe they had booked a valid, not-obviously-mistake fare -- someone in Denmark and/or paying with a Denmark-issued credit card and purchasing one of the $1500 C tickets is the "poster child" for this. If this is not the precise situation the DOT regulations were designed to protect, what is?
DOT has said they are focused on US facing advertising, which I assume means they are passing the buck here. The $1500 J to Palau would be an interesting case, for sure.
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Old Feb 25, 15, 8:13 am
  #5128  
 
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Originally Posted by largeeyes
DOT has said they are focused on US facing advertising, which I assume means they are passing the buck here. The $1500 J to Palau would be an interesting case, for sure.
The focus on US facing sites is disturbing. Now at least through United it is a choice of pay whatever exchange rate they offer if you want the DOT protections rather than any chance of booking in the base fare of the country (which would've been UK in this instance).

I expect American and Delta to follow suit soon. Why allow the credit card providers to profit off the exchange rate fee when you can get it yourself?
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Old Feb 25, 15, 8:38 am
  #5129  
 
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Originally Posted by elva
Actually the slippery slope argument is very sound. That is not a hypothesis, we are already sliding down the slope – because with this ruling DOT already allowed UA to cancel $100 coach tickets (some didn't bother to book C or F) and $1500 C/F tickets (some chose more expensive destinations). There was no exception for these tickets.
There's no exception because the DOT is certain from the booking process that the consumers had to know it was a mistake.

The "how cheap is the fare?" test is a proxy for "did the consumers know it was a mistake?". If the consumer did know, it doesn't matter that the fare isn't necessarily too good to be true.

That said, that is NOT true of purchasers in Denmark with Danish billing addresses.
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Old Feb 25, 15, 9:18 am
  #5130  
 
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Originally Posted by dilanesp
There's no exception because the DOT is certain from the booking process that the consumers had to know it was a mistake.
Can you tell me where does 399.88 make a distinction about consumers knowing or not knowing it was a mistake?
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