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Do NOT call it an error fare. Seriously. Lufthansa sued and won.

Do NOT call it an error fare. Seriously. Lufthansa sued and won.

Old May 2, 18, 10:20 am
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Do NOT call it an error fare. Seriously. Lufthansa sued and won.

Remember the 687 euro Germany to US West Coast J fare on *A/A++ carriers a few months ago? Turns out that calling it an "error fare" got one German website in a load of trouble. Lufthansa sued the "error fare" site for interfering with its business and the German courts agreed.


It must be taken into account that this is not a case of individual bookings of an Error Fare, but the defendant as the market leader in the area “Reiseschnäppchenportal” reached millions of users and informed about the presence of error fares, so that it – as in the present case – within less hours comes to a variety of bookings. The market power of the defendant therefore adds additional weight to the assessment of (parasitic) exploitation.
Some really interesting stuff in the full ruling.

Link to my coverage of the news; you've been warned.
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Old May 2, 18, 11:10 am
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Flyertalk mods should just put a global filter on the term, or autorename it to fare sale
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Old May 2, 18, 2:36 pm
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Shocking but not surprising in the context of the German legal system. Aside from all the usual arguments, freedom of speech etc, given the litany of legitimate low fares, it is not even necessarily self-evident that $667 is an error fare.
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Old May 2, 18, 7:48 pm
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Originally Posted by flyercity View Post
given the litany of legitimate low fares, it is not even necessarily self-evident that $667 is an error fare.
In J? Yes, it was obvious this was an error.
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Old May 2, 18, 8:15 pm
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Originally Posted by nomiiiii View Post
Flyertalk mods should just put a global filter on the term, or autorename it to fare sale
Even better, automatic warning on first offence within the MR forum. And a ban from the MR forum for the second offence.
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Old May 3, 18, 10:28 am
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Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
In J? Yes, it was obvious this was an error.
I agree, people here would know, but the fare does not meet the common law standard for mistake, i.e. that the price is so absurdly low that anyone would know it was a mistake.

On the wider issue of not being allowed to share/post the info about the fare, that just boggles the mind.
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Old May 3, 18, 7:14 pm
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Poor decision imo.

Lufthansa: don't balls up your pricing in the first instance maybe?
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Old May 3, 18, 11:49 pm
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I have to wonder where this would likely go on appeal (since it sounds like this is an initial court ruling). With that being said, I also find this ruling to be particularly bothersome insofar as Lufthansa basically succeeded by arguing that publicizing a fare which they had filed of their own free will (albeit by mistake) harmed them. Now, I understand why they made that argument, but given their obsession with tinkering with fares to maximize revenue, the rise of "flash sales" in many cases, and in many instances additionally preferring to automate the process as much as possible, a bit of caveat venditor really needs to apply. An airline making a "rational but curious" business decision isn't always easy to differentiate from one making a pricing error, and there are doubtlessly going to be cases where telling one's readers about a flash sale with limited availability is an advantage to a blogger.

With that being said, the ruling is a very narrow one. It seems to only apply to German sites, only to promoting fares as "mistake fares" (or similar phrasing), and only in cases where the site in question can seriously be claimed as a competitor to the airline. I'd be hard-pressed to see this sort of logic hold up in the US, for example (as opposed to the "hidden city" case, where you could at least argue that the website in question was encouraging passengers to break airlines' CoC and using data mined directly from the airline to do so), especially given the First Amendment.
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