Used to be, if you were lucky enough to score a $125 round trip ticket from NYC to Italy thanks to a website glitch, airlines would look the other way. Not anymore. From now on, the U.S. Department of Transportation will no longer require air carriers to honor “mistaken” airfares, CBS Money Watch reports.
A 2011 regulation once prevented airlines from from increasing ticket prices after it has been purchased.
“…If a consumer purchases a fare and receives confirmation of the purchase and the purchase appears on the consumer’s credit card statement and/or online account summary, then there has been a purchase whether or not it was a mistaken fare,” the provision, known as section 399.88, stated.
But this ruling will no longer be upheld.
“…The Enforcement Office will not enforce the requirement of section 399.88 with regard to mistaken fares occurring on or after the date of this notice,” the U.S. Department of Transportation wrote.
But wait… there are a few catches: The airline has to prove that the ticket fare was a mistake. Also, the carrier will be responsible for reimbursing the customer for any out-of-pocket expenses incurred; this includes non-refundable hotel reservations, destination tour activities or packages, cancellation fees for non-refundable connecting air flights, visa fees, and more.
With these drawbacks, it’s likely that airlines might choose to honor the “mistaken” airfare, according to Mile Value, a travel blog.
“It’s ironic that the Department of Transportation’s attempt to kill mistake fares not only doesn’t kill them, but might cost the airlines more money when dealing with people who are gaming the system,” the site says.
TravelZoo, a global Internet media company, offers a suggestion: “For now, if you find and book a mistake fare — make sure you keep the receipts. In a perverse way, the amount you spend on other travel items after purchasing a mistake fare may make it more likely that you can keep the cheap flight.”