Singapore Airlines Price Glitch Causes Half-Price Business Fares
It's safe to say Singapore Airlines has had better weeks. The Southeast Asian carrier is presently working to recoup its losses after a computer error in the global distribution system used by travel agencies caused about 900 business-class tickets from Australia to London to be sold at coach prices.
Sold between Saturday, November 29 and Monday, December 1 by various online travel agencies in Australia, these tickets were entered into the global distribution system by Singapore Airlines. Originally priced at roughly $5,500 apiece, the computer error mistakenly reassigned them to a business-class subclass and listed them at an economy fare level of around $3,200.
Singapore Airlines' fare conditions state that "a published fare takes precedence over the combination of intermediate fares applicable to the same class of service between the same points via the same routing." The airline is pointing to this policy to contend that because these tickets were listed at an economy fare level, they're only valid for coach class travel.
One of the Australian OTAs, Flight Centre, noticed the computer error on November 29 and notified Singapore Airlines, but the error wasn't fixed until December 1. By then, approximately 900 tickets had been sold at the lower price. The airline has since advised all Australian OTAs involved that they'll have to contact their customers and seek the difference between the actual price and the selling price, or else foot the bill themselves.
In the meantime, customers have been given the option to either pay the difference for Singapore's lowest business-class fare, fly their purchased route in economy rather than business class, or receive a full refund.
Having flown Singapore Airlines business class twice – on an A330 from Singapore to Male, Maldives and an A340-500 from Newark to Singapore – and enjoyed both experiences tremendously, I would have been thrilled to score a long-haul trip on the carrier's business class from Australia to London.
I generally side with consumers and feel that mistake fares should be honored, though Singapore clearly feels differently. At least the airline has offered a decisive response with several options for affected flyers.
Who do you think should be on the hook for these mistaken fares?