Is American Airlines Going To Stop Awarding Miles On Mistake Fares?

Mistake fares have been around for as long as I’ve played the miles and points game.  They add a layer of excitement to those of us that like to travel the world.  When I first heard about mistake fares, it seemed more like a unicorn than an actual occurrence.  That was over a decade ago.  But, then I saw friends of mine flying to Greece for $30 and realized they were very much a reality.

Of course, technology would catch up and mistake fares would disappear, right?  Not yet, though there certainly is a push by the airlines to us technology to help reduce the amount of mistake fares they offer.  And yet, we still saw such mistakes as the Krone Krime fares, $0 base fares to Beijing in first class, all those United tickets sold for next to nothing on a tiny Norwegian travel site and completely free tickets on United.

The DOT has stepped in now to say that, at least temporarily, it won’t require the airlines to honor mistake fares, though it will require them to “make good” with the customers.  But, some airlines aren’t waiting for the DOT to bail them out, and they’re not just using technology to prevent mistake fares from happening.

View From The Wing reports American Airlines won’t award miles on mistake fares anymore.  From a strictly business standpoint, I like the move.  However, announcing you’re not going to award miles for “inadvertent” fares isn’t the same thing as actually denying people mileage.

I don’t really think it’s that cut and dry.  My gut tells me they are including this in their T&C both as a deterrent (and why not, it’s free to change the T&C?) and in case they really decide they want to enforce this down the road.

I agree with Gary, I have no problem with them not awarding miles on these fares.  Making a mistake and being forced to honor it will sting a little less if they don’t also have to award miles (both status and redeemable).

However, I still suspect this gets used sparingly.  There’s plenty of state legislation that hangs around so that police can “throw the book at” the worst offenders, stacking up charges from arcane statutes.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see something similar here, in that the act of denying someone miles for a published fare is reserved for the worst “offenders”. Are you a good customer of American Airlines who booked a theoretical single trip to Beijing in first class when the base fare was $0?  Maybe you fly under the radar and they award you miles.

What if you’re a customer who doesn’t fly American all that much and booked 6 of these?  I think you’re more likely to get denied mileage for those flights.

And, just including such a provision in the T&C will act as a deterrent for some.  It won’t deter the person that wants to fly to Beijing for free because they enjoy mainland China.  But, it will deter some mileage runners who are only taking the time to hang out on a plane for a couple of days so they use the miles to re-qualify for elite status or to book their next set of award tickets.

I’m still not sure how I feel personally about this change.  On the one hand, I’ve booked a small number of mistake fares over the years, though ended up having to cancel most of them due to schedule constraints.  My primary reason was for elite-qualifying miles.

On the other hand, I generally have enough flying to earn top-tier elite status on at least one airline every year.  So, maybe I’m better off with fewer people being able to sneak into elite status through a loophole like this?  Certainly that loophole is smaller at Delta and United now given the revenue requirements to achieve/maintain elite status.

As someone who studies the aviation industry on a daily basis, I’m interested to see the different paths the airlines are taking to close loopholes like this.  And, I’m a bit sad to see some of them close, if only because they represent fantastic stories of people getting to explore a dream destination for next to nothing.  But, we’ve seen bigger changes than this and still have plenty to talk about on a daily basis.

Still, I’ll be waiting for the next mistake fare on American to see how they apply this rule.

Do you think they’ll enforce this on all mistake fares?

The post Is American Airlines Going To Stop Awarding Miles On Mistake Fares? was published first on Pizza In Motion.

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