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!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees