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Earlier this month, the US Depart of Transportation issued a ruling on the subject of “mistake fares” — that’s the industry term for when an airline or third party sells tickets for a fare that is usually substantially lower than the intended ticket price. Of course, that decision certainly caused a stir among travelers who take advantage of such deals.

It’s unclear how the DOT and airlines will handle mistakes going forward, and while they’ll likely decide on a case-by-case basis, there’s a good chance this new policy could have a negative impact on too-good-to-be-true deals. For example, in 2013, Delta Air Lines honored $6.90 round-trip flights to Hawaii after a two-hour website glitch. We even wrote a guide to Beijing after American Airlines mistakenly posted $450 business-class fares from Washington earlier this year. Those “sales” may become a thing of the past.


In this latest blow, following the DOT’s May ruling stating that the agency will no longer “enforce the requirement for airlines to honor mistaken fares provided the airline demonstrates that the fare was a mistake and reimburses the out-of-pocket expenses of consumers who purchased the mistaken fare,” American Airlines has notified us that it’s updated the AAdvantage Terms and Conditions to reflect this change, which we’ve underlined below:

Certain airline tickets are not eligible for earning mileage credit. These include, without limitation, the following: all tickets issued as AAdvantage awards or other free ticket promotions including free or reduced rate tickets; companion tickets; charter flight tickets; travel agency/industry reduced rate tickets; infant tickets; items occupying a purchased seat; unpublished fare tickets, including consolidator fares, tickets issued as a result of a fare published inadvertently or by mistake and tickets issued subject to special provisions.

In a nutshell, American may no longer issue AAdvantage miles or elite credit on mistake fares, eliminating the “mileage run” potential such deals have offered. We’ve reached out to other major US carriers to see if they plan to update their policies as well.

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