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There was a lot of excitement this past Saturday with Alitalia’s Japanese promo code that took $315 off any Alitalia flight. However, the next day they unilaterally cancelled all tickets much to the dismay of dealseekers (myself included). The legality of this decision is still debatable as it was complex being that they are an Italian company, it was a Japanese website and a lot of people who purchased tickets were in different countries, many in the US.
Personally, I booked one intra-European flight that came out to $0, mostly to test out the parameters of the promotion. When things went south we wrote about the different ways that consumers can and should express their feedback.
Yesterday I spoke to a couple media outlets like USA Today and ABC News, which clearly started to up the stakes for Alitalia and brought them under increased media scrutiny. When talking to the media, my take was pro-consumer as I think this was a legitimate marketing promotion launched by Alitalia, unlike the 4 mile Hong Kong mistake fare which was clearly a computer glitch, and I thought that Alitalia should honor the fare promotion.
This afternoon Alitalia announced that they would indeed be honoring the promotion for those who paid 1 euro cent or more. Here is the full text from their Facebook page:
“Dear Alitalia fans,
Thank you for the interest you took in our Facebook Global Offer. Alitalia was the first airline to create a global event of this kind for the Internet community: the most wide-ranging Alitalia promotion ever.
We offered a worldwide 25% discount, with the exception of Japan, where for technical reasons we were forced to create a unique E-Coupon worth 25.000 yen (approximately 250 euro) to be used exclusively for the purchase of flights from Tokyo or Osaka. This redemption rules were clearly stated in the Japanese version of the Facebook offer.
Unfortunately, due to a malfunction, the system did not recognize the limitation of this unique e-coupon to be used only on routes from Japan. As a result, the system erroneously allowed the voucher discount of 25,000 yen to be used on all routes in Alitalia’s global network.
The news spread rapidly online and in a matter of a few hours our Japanese website reported a dramatic surge in visits and purchase requests from several geographical areas.
This unusual occurrence on the Japanese website triggered a security system alert which, considering the high percentage of number of requests at zero cost, froze all transactions. The promotion’s objective was to spur and increase the sale of tickets at a discounted price, and not to issue tickets for free or at a minimal cost.
However, since Alitalia intends to protect clients who have committed a, albeit minimal, amount with their credit card, we confirm the validity of the transactions requested on the Japanese site with a value greater than 1 euro cent. Those clients will soon receive an e-mail with their ticket.
Finally, in consideration of the great success of the promotion, we decided to extend the 25% discount offer for two additional days.
Alitalia Facebook Team”
In the end, this was an amazing deal and you had to jump in on it quickly. The old saying, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is,” isn’t always true! Congratulations to those who got in on this and I applaud Alitalia for making a consumer valued decision. Even though my ticket won’t be honored, it’s all about looking forward to the next deal!