ANA Not Honouring Error Fares

Early last week something happened that caused some turbulence throughout the travel community – Japanese airline ANA was selling tickets at stunningly cheap prices via their Vietnamese site. Long haul business class tickets were going for under S$500 – a price which would be very cheap even for economy class.

Travel enthusiasts – and in all likelihood, normal people – were in a booking frenzy for these tickets, with a travel blogger from Hong Kong booking as many as 25 tickets at a fraction of their original prices.

Welcome to “error fares” where airlines publish too-good-to-be-true prices for their tickets often due to a computer or human error. In ANA’s case, a technical issue with currency conversion was cited as the reason for the fabulously cheap prices.

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What happens to error fares?

When airlines screw up and put out way too cheap fares for sale, there are a few possibilities. One, the airline could honour those tickets as Cathay did in 2019. Those quick enough to have booked the flights got premium seats for a steal, and nearly everyone’s happy.

Two, the airline could just cancel the tickets and refund those involved, and that is exactly what ANA has opted to do after a week of deliberation.

ANA not honouring the tickets bought at erroneous prices

While some airlines opt to honour error fares possibly to uphold their reputation, ANA has decided not to do so and will refund all tickets.

Some really spontaneous people have already taken their flights to their destinations, and there is currently no word whether their return trips will be refunded as well.

Why I didn’t cover this on my site

Even though I like to document my occasional work and personal trips, I don’t quite identify as a travel blogger, which is probably why this piece of news mostly flew under my radar. Ironically enough, I largely missed out on this because I was busy settling in a new city for another overseas workcation.

I do, however, consider myself a proud member of Team Value, and to say that S$400+ business class tickets are good value is grossly understating how much of a great deal they were (assuming they were honoured). This is also why I’ve been mentally kicking myself for not covering this when the error fares were available for booking.

What do you think about error fares?

In hindsight, my abject oversight of this “deal” may have saved myself and a bunch of readers the trouble of even booking in the first place, but I would certainly keep my ears closer to the tarmac for such things in future so stay subscribed to the Telegram for such updates.

A friend I was relating this story to told me that he feels that buying such tickets is essentially capitalising on someone’s mistake and hence pretty unethical, but I personally feel that it’s entirely fair for people to book then leave to the airline to choose between honouring the tickets or cancel them, as ANA has done.

What do you think?

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