Lufthansa Wins Lawsuit Against Travel Site For Publishing ‘Error Fares’
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
A German court recently ruled in favor of Lufthansa after the airline pursued a lawsuit against Germany-based travel blog HolidayPirates for advertising business-class “Error Fares” between Germany and California for just 687 euros ($819).
The error fares, published on HolidayPirates on September 1, 2017, knocked more than €3,000 ($3,577) off the going rate on the fare, and could be booked from the travel site via a Kayak plug-in. The court called the published fare and search functionality an “unfair trade practice,” particularly in an antitrust context, since the HolidayPirates website could be considered a competitor selling travel services, according to Loyalty Lobby.
The ruling, by a local court in the state of Bavaria, poses some puzzling questions for travel sites hoping to share future good deals with their readers. While this particular German court sanctioned the promotion of “fares with wrong prices” (i.e. error fares), it isn’t clear if that is meant literally as only error fares, or if it applies to any mention of “great deals” or even the equivalent of the Deal Alerts we publish here at TPG. The court also didn’t specify whether or not the ruling is limited to HolidayPirates alone, or if it extends to other websites and airlines. Regardless, the threat of jail time and/or a €250,000 fine makes the idea of testing those boundaries very unappealing.
The court document can be found here (in German only). The case, which was filed soon after the error fares were published in September 2017, states that Lufthansa immediately took action on the error, yet the HolidayPirates publication caused the airline to incur a total loss of €450,000 ($536,638) on the published business-class fares. Beyond the financial loss, however, Lufthansa claimed that its primary concern was the damage done to public perception and value of the airline brand. (The carrier blamed an “incomplete Excel spreadsheet” for the pricing error on its booking site.)
The ruling imposes a fine of €250,000 or six months’ jail time for the CEO. It can be appealed in a higher court in Bavaria.
H/T: Loyalty Lobby
Featured image by Lufthansa.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.