Should I be posting about mistake fares?

I’ve had three posts where I’ve talked about mispriced fares – the SEZ – DUB fare yesterday, the Marriott Phuket currency errror, and the potential TATL fare.

I understand that this is my own blog and I’m allowed to write whatever I please – but I strive to maintain the best practices in the miles and points world with my content. Whether it’s about proper disclosure, hat tipping properly, or even open discussion, I’ve tried my very hardest to adhere to the practices that everyone here feels is reasonable.

I got two comments this morning (and I’ve also gotten a few similar ones with the other posts) telling me that I am “killing the deal” and that “I’m not doing anyone a favour.”

For those who want to know why I posted these mistake fares, here’s what I think.

A mistake fare is clearly mispriced, so that any employee for the airline who is fairly intelligent enough so not the US Dividend Miles Call Center will notice and notify a superior or get it fixed. That’s why whenever I have a post of this type, I ask you not to call the airlines/hotels/company. Does it mean that calling the airline will get the fare fixed? No. But it means that it raises the likelihood that the fare will be discovered and noticed.

When I post these, I realize the exposure my blog gives to the fare. So while that may ruin it for those that are angry that how instead of tens of bookings there are hundreds of bookings, that doesn’t affect whether it’s going to be honoured or not. In my opinion the number of bookings and the mistake fare itself is generally mutually exclusive. If you look at the Rangoon mistake fare, the round 1 fares were honoured. The round 3 weren’t. It wasn’t a matter of the number of people booking, but rather the airline that decided not to honour it.

Obviously, I don’t understand how I am killing it, other than the fact that I may bring its death a few hours ahead. Again, I can’t predict by how many hours I will do that and I try my hardest to ensure people don’t make dumb mistakes by calling the airlines. But even if they do, why should the people who booked it before I posted about the deal have a right to be angry that others are booking it? What is the need to be selfish?

Yes, I didn’t find the mistake fare, but does that mean I shouldn’t be able to write about it? I feel that posting the mistake will benefit more than it will harm. Especially with the Seychelles fare, I think it was the case. I’ve never seen so many posts on twitter thanking me for bringing the fare to the public, which is exactly what I wanted. I want to help people in miles and points, and if a mistake fare does that, so be it. I also think that the people that benefit from this fare greatly outnumber the people who feel I ruined the deal. That is worth any haters posting comments that I don’t like but I will censor keep on my post.

Do you think I should be posting the username of the poster who discovered the fare on the FT thread for proper disclosure? Or do you think I should not even be posting these? Please comment below and cast a vote (I can’t seem to figure out how to do a poll – I don’t think I have the widget).

I really wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for your support – all of you, from the awesome conversations on Twitter, to the nice people on flyertalk that I had PM conversations with, and even all the bloggers who helped me to become a better blogger. Thank you, very much. So whether you hate my posts or love my posts I still appreciate your feedback. 🙂

Pingbacks

Comments

  1. I appreciate you posting the fare error. Was it of use to me? No, but it might have been for someone else. But I might possibly benefit from one in the future which I would greatly appreciate any heads up on 😉

    AS for you “killing” the deal. That’s simply not true, the deal is “killed” when someone contacts the airline or booking site which you have no control over.

    I like the fact that you are “IN THE KNOW” which is why I visit daily. You can’t be everything to everyone and you can’t please everyone either.

    Please continue to post as you have because I for one am off FT as there is too much noise with too many non-sense posts and replies… I just want clear, easy to read and understand tips and advice on EVERYTHING miles & points.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Yep, a lot of the issues that haters have is that I should be liable for the people that contact the airline. Still trying to figure out a solution for that…

      • Jeff, There is no solution for that, whether it’s on SD, FW, FT, MP, DD or wherever. It’s like saying that we shouldn’t have kids because they can/will mess up travel plans – the key is patience & education but also realizing that there are ‘People who ruin deals’ everywhere, including FT – and that these are ‘limited time offers’. You stated clearly ‘Do NOT call’ at the top of your post which is what you could do.

  2. Jeff, I have had the pleasure of meeting you and corresponding numerous times. Having that experience first hand I can say you are a stand up guy and out to help everyone involved.

    That being said, I think you have struck a nerve here. The SEZ post even alarmed me. I wouldn’t say Mileage Running and Mistake fares are anything like Golf and there are no gentleman agreements here. The Airlines aren’t out to help anyone except themselves. If they offer an olive branch in some situations it is generally a high level marketing decision and only to keep their brand intact. However ,I do think there is an unspoken Gentleman like agreement amongst the FT/MP/BA readers and bloggers, that it is inappropriate to post publicly about mistake fares.

    Generally these are posted to private / hidden forums or communicated through email. Here is why:
    #1. Joe Johnson that has never visited a blog sees a mistake fare and mis handles the situation and calls the airline to book 87 trips. This tips off the airline to shut it down. Or he book 87 round the world fares and sells them for a markup.
    #2. Mike Matthews works for TopTravel.com and reads blogs, he sees his company is give out roundtrip a380 flights to NCZM in First Class with free Limo Pick up at McMurdo. He shuts down the glitch and limo rides, people in the air land and freeze to death when their limo doesn’t arrive.
    #3. Bob the blogger posts in a major channel like BA or NYT. 10,000 people see the deal and book all the seats in 97 seconds, I/You (insert name) doesn’t get a chance to book and are bummed/angry.

    The above 3 are not wrong, the end of the world, or evil, but they are valid reasons NOT to post publicly.

    All this being said, my fiancee and I wanted to go to PRI (Island in SEZ) for our honeymoon, so when I got your blog post, I was thrilled and made a booking after some research. (I should have booked via xp.com not xp.co.uk, in hindsight)

    So to summarize, public posting of glitch deals upsets the blog/flyertalk continuum because it is an unspoken position one should keep these deals on the DL (Down Low). If you prefer to post publicly, it is your prerogative, but there will be backlash as seen here. If you don’t mind, post on, but be aware of the 3 consequences above.

    I think a good alternative would be to offer a “private newsletter” and on sign up explain the ground rules.
    NO Calling the TA/Airline,
    The Deal is first come first serve
    24 Hr Cancel in some situations
    The deal may be revoked, be prepared
    Think the deal through before booking
    But Book Fast

    I think you will learn all this in time and find a good happy medium on BA and FT. Thanks for posting and continue the good work!

  3. @Jeff. As long as you give proper credentials there should not be any issue posting it. At FT lot of deals are also borrowed from TheFlightDeal and Slickdeals. So, I do not see anything wrong in it..

  4. I say keep writing about them. Yes, it may mean the mistake fare is taken away earlier, but it will probably also mean more people who have a legitimate use for it will have access to it. 🙂

  5. I’ll chime in – I found out about this deal via SD, where that post referred back to your post – so I guess in this case I ‘epitomize’ the unwashed masses the FT gatekeepers try to keep their secrets from (& why I very rarely go there). Like any deal, I then had to go & perform my own research on the deal – in this case work the dates, check positioning possibilities, etc. Any given deal is not for everyone – my in-laws were here and they were looking at us like ‘You are going to do a one-way flight from where?!?’

    I think some FT’ers need to remember a few of the other ‘Rules of the Deal’ beside ‘Do NOT call’ – namely that:

    -Any given deal will likely only have limited stock or availability for a limited time (so the life span of the deal will only last for as long or as short as that, and no one knows that time or inventory).
    -If you miss out on the deal, move on. There will be another one, and another one. No one gets every deal, and those that live normal lives get even less.
    -If you keep trying and know what a deal is, you will get your share (or more).

    The point is, keep your eyes open & head up, and stay level-headed. I appreciated you sharing and it in part is helping us see the Seychelles if nothing dramatic happens. Even if the worst happens, I will still be appreciative, make the best of it and move on to the next deal.

  6. When you don’t have any original content like your blog seems to lack.. maybe it’s time to stop or do something about that, instead of just stealing you content from somewhere else.

    • I know I have trouble generating original content – check my post this afternoon for that. But I’m concerned about why you think I’m stealing…

  7. Just like the poster above said he found out from SD, who found out from your blog, that’s what usually kills deals. The SD and FW crowd kill things quickly. As for the RGN fare, that lived for a long time before it got publicity, then it got shut down and people denied their tickets, but not until it was in the open on the blogosphere.

  8. Keep up the great work! All deals have a certain lifespan anyway so why not help people who would be interested. I saw this deal when it was available and did not book it since it would have been too much trouble for positioning flights.

    Ignore the haters! Some haters are only mad because they missed out on the deal. For the haters that did book it in time, how many times do they really want to fly between SEZ-DUB? And if they did, they could have booked multiple trips. Being angry about it is just childish. It’s like a kid that is forced to share their candy.

    (FYI, if you are a single male adult, I suggest you don’t give children candy. That’s only acceptable on Halloween.)

    Really though, what are the direct negative impacts of sharing deals? The airline finds out and cancels, oh well. That was a deal that was never supposed to really happen. It should in no way ruin anyone’s life and people are clearly overreacting.

    Anyway, I appreciate you sharing the deal and hope you will continue to do so in the future!

  9. Keep posting! It’s your right to do it if you so desire. So many bloggers are afraid to do so because of pseudo peer pressure. I would give credit when credit is due.

      • Posting a mistake deal means it is less likely that it will be honored… You must understand that the more people that book it, the less likely it will be honored… Your blog is great and you have many loyal followers (including me) but posting mistake rates isn’t actually helping us.

        For example: Marriott didn’t honor the latest mistake rate, but a few Marriott error rates that have been relatively contained have been honored.

        There are many, many, mistake rates that occur. If a few people should happen to find it…good for them. But when everyone jumps in…no one will win!

        I am speaking from experience and I used to post mistake rates on Flyertalk: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/hotel-deals/1427425-paris-etoile-saint-ferdinand-13-a.html

        Please take this into consideration…

  10. bad form to post about the mistake fare while it is still alive. Too much publicity once something appears on the front page of BA. If you really want to post about these, why not do it via a newsletter that people can subscribe to.

  11. I’ll never really be able to use a mistake fare because of my work schedule/kids/family/life but I feel that they are interesting to read about. I feel though that there are a certain subset of people who want to hoard all of the mistake fares and not let anyone else know about them. Screw them. The internet was designed to spread information. Let it spread…

    FDW

  12. Tom… “bad form to post about the mistake fare while it is still alive”. Why would you post AFTER? Just be thumb your nose at those that missed it.

    Andrew.. “there is an unspoken Gentleman like agreement amongst the FT/MP/BA readers and bloggers, that it is inappropriate to post publicly about mistake fares.”
    I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen it done. It must be unspoken to the point of being unknown.

  13. I don’t really understand why you are organizing a poll, as you already decided that you will continue to post error fares.
    Anyway, I’m convinced the problem will solve itself. Due to some bloggers, people will simply stop posting error fares on sites like FT.

  14. I think this is the SECOND post without a HAT TIP, the first one was the opening line of the blog. Haha.

    Says enough, doesn’t it?

  15. First I would like to mention about “stealing” the info – you are not stealing anything as long as you reference the source, and you do it already (“found on FT” is sufficient reference).
    Second, I would like to mention that majority of your readers have very little understanding of the impact of posting error fares in the popular blogs like yours.

    Scenario #1. (Numbers are fictitious , for demonstration only)
    Mistake fare is posted on the forum, 500 people booked the tickets, airline may lose 100K revenue. They decide to honor the fares since this loss is relatively small.

    Scenario #2 mistake fare is posted on the forum and then replicated on the blogs.
    5000 people booked the tickets, airline may lose 1M revenue. They decide not to honor the fares, and invest in some software development to prevent these mistakes from happening.

    Besides this, you can ask not to call the airlines as many times as you want, many blog readers just do not understand why, they just found a great deal to help with their once a year trip – of course they need to call and confirm that trip is valid….

    There is general lack of understanding that mistake fares are like a lottery – even when you bought them, win is not guaranteed, so do not use it for once in lifetime plan you want to be 100% guaranteed.

    SO – my vote (not a complaint!) – not to post mistake fares, although it is clearly your choice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.