Mistaken Fare Showdown: Flight Centre vs Singapore Airlines

With so many airlines currently flying to Australia, offering a variety of fares, sometimes it can be pretty hard to pick when a published fare is a mistake. Some two weeks ago, on a Saturday morning, Flight Centre staff did think they had found such a mistake fare. Doing the responsible thing, they let Singapore Airlines know that they thought there was a problem. When there was no confirmation, the decision was made to sell the fare. That’s when the problem really started to grow.

The mistake fares in question are believed to be around half the normal fare in Business class to Europe. Since that fateful weekend, reports have emerged in the press of Singapore Airlines possibly looking at cancelling the tickets or asking Flight Centre to pay the difference. Ironically, as far as mistake fares go, this one is quite average. Previously, some of our savvy members have spotted some awesome bargains from the very same airline, which did not hesitate in honouring the tickets.

I was surprised to read the article too. It seems it wasn’t even noticed on FlyerTalk. Having bought more than a dozen of the ex-Rangoon fares across the three rounds (beginning almost 2.5 years ago), several of which were issued on Singapore stock (and that I and my family flew), I’ll be very interested to see how this plays out. One of the examples saw three of us fly from Yangon to Singapore to Zurich and return in SQ/MI (SilkAir) Business Class for under AUD700. SQ didn’t bat an eyelid and were loudly applauded for it across Fly-erTalk, unlike some other carriers.

Other members felt that the issue lay with Flight Centre. They should have known the airfare was too good to be true and not sold it.

How did we not know about this?! No travel agent with half a brain is going to sell a mistake fare. Flight Centre would have policies about this.

With news filtering through that Singapore would definitely not be honouring the tickets, it was becoming a public relations disaster for Singapore Airlines, undoing the good work it had done honouring mistake fares in the past. The various state consumer affairs bodies were noticeably absent when it came to providing an option on the matter. On the other hand, the consumer organisation Choice was quite clear where they felt the airline stood.

According to the head of Choice media, Singapore Airlines is ‘out of luck’. He says there is Australian consumer law that states customers are entitled to a product they have been sold. He then goes on to say that airlines are under a lot of pressure regarding credit card surcharges, and therefore SQ should take this hit to help the image of the industry.

At the time of writing, clearly the final chapter is yet to be written on this saga. Did you score a bargain, or perhaps you just have a view on how it should be handled by those who made the mistakes, have your say HERE.

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