USA: DOT ruling against airline pricing mistakes

British Airways last month published an unusually low fare from the United States to India. The base was $40 round trip. Although BA doesn’t include its $370 fuel surcharge in that amount but passes it on as a “tax” rather than as part of the ticket price, and the actual taxes were an additional $150, the total $560 was still several hundred dollars less than a regular advance-purchase fare to India.The fare stayed on the market only for one day, but that was enough time for hundreds of tickets to be purchased. Three days later, BA unilaterally canceled all those tickets because a mistake had been made.The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) said it conducted a full investigation over the cause, magnitude and consequences of this incident and determined that BA’s unilateral cancellation had caused financial harm to a large number of consumers.The Department ruled that British Airways should compensate affected consumers – which BA agreed to do – but refused to force British Airways to restore the canceled tickets.Sources: The Washington Times; DOT press release 183-09

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