Virgin Australia Cancelling $174 Mistake Fare Tickets to Australia
As it turns out, the $174 round-trip mistake fare from the US to Australia was, in fact, too good to be true. As reported by several TPG readers, Virgin Australia is emailing those who purchased tickets, informing them that it's not proceeding with their booking.
The news comes more than one week after we published the spectacular deal alert on October 30. TPG readers indicated they received these emails on Wednesday — nine days after tickets were purchased. Virgin Australia is saying that the $174 round-trip tickets were "due to human error," and "there was a discrepancy with the fare price advertised." As a result, the carrier isn't honoring the tickets.
Airlines aren't required by the Department of Transportation to honor mistake fares, as long as they offer specific protections to the consumer. So, given how big of a mistake this fare was, it's not much of a surprise. However, the fact that Virgin Australia is informing customers that it's not honoring the fares nine days after people booked their tickets seems a little off. Usually, airlines let customers know they're not going to honor fares just a few days later, so nine days is a bit much — especially for those who made plans, which could be quite a few people since Virgin Australia is cancelling these tickets more than a week after consumers purchased them.
Keep in mind that the Department of Transportation requires that the airline "reimburse all consumers who purchased a mistaken fare ticket for any reasonable, actual, and verifiable out-of-pocket expenses that were made in reliance upon the ticket purchase, in addition to refunding the purchase price of the ticket." The DOT considers these expenses to include, but are not limited to, non-refundable hotel reservations, destination tour packages or activities, cancellation fees for non-refundable connecting air travel and visa or other international travel fees. So, if you made plans that fall into this category, Virgin Australia is required to refund you.
Of course, there’s always the chance that Virgin Australia could reverse its decision. In July, Qatar Airways published mistake fares in business class for $555 round-trip. In the aftermath, there was some confusion about whether the airline would honor the fares. But in the end, it canceled some but ended up reinstating others.