Qatar Airways Passenger Almost Gets $28 million Refund

Qatar Airways Passenger Almost Gets Accidental $28 million RefundAn Australian Frequent Flyer forum moderator got the shock of her life recently when she discovered that her available credit card balance was suddenly over $28 million. The reason? She’d just received a refund for a Qatar Airways flight!

It's not everyday your available bank balance is $28,179,789!
It’s not everyday your available bank balance is $28,179,789!

JessicaTam had booked return Qatar Airways Business class flights from Jakarta to London. But like most flights at the moment, they were unfortunately cancelled due to COVID-19 and a refund was processed.

JessicaTam posted on Australian Frequent Flyer:

Hmmm. I notice that today my QR refund has come through to my credit card.

My account is now showing as $28,179,789 available balance. (The refund was less than $3000.)

Can anyone suggest a small country I should purchase?

This may seem like a bizarre amount of money to refund when the ticket only cost around $2,800. But the amount wasn’t quite a coincidence. As the first flight on this ticket departed from Indonesia, the fare was originally paid in Indonesian Rupiah. The total airfare, converted into Indonesian Rupiah, was IDR28,179,000.

The original Qatar Airways airfare
The original Qatar Airways airfare

Somehow, somewhere along the way, it looks like the refund was quoted in Australian Dollars – but for the amount in Indonesian Rupiah. That could have turned into quite a costly mistake, given 1 Australian dollar is worth almost 10,000 rupiah! Fortunately (for Qatar Airways), either the airline or the bank corrected the error the following day!

Sad news everyone. My bank has decided to take close on 30 million dollars from my account.

In the end JessicaTam wasn’t accidentally $28 million richer, but in fact around $50 out of pocket due to a change in the foreign exchange rate in the months since making the original booking. But it would have been fun to imagine what could be done with a handy $28 million – even if just for a short time!

Currency conversion errors are a common source of mistake fares

It may seem unlikely for an airline to make such an obvious currency conversion error. But it does happen occasionally. For example, exchange rate errors are a common source of error fares – those ridiculously cheap flights that airlines occasionally sell by accident.

Other common sources of error fares include:

  • Typos, e.g. “$1,700” instead of “$7,100”
  • Fares missing one or more components, such as fuel surcharges being erroneously removed
  • Airfares filed for the wrong class of travel

One of the most popular recent mistake fares was a Cathay Pacific First class fare from Vietnam to the United States for less than $2,000 return. Surprisingly, the airline even honoured all tickets sold.

Airfares filed in the wrong currency have previously resulted in $90 United First class tickets from Europe to the United States and Emirates flights from the Maldives to New York for $100, to give just a couple of examples.

So, if you’re expecting a refund from an airline (or anyone) in a currency other than Australian dollars, keep an eye on your bank account!

Australian Frequent Flyer members can read JessicaTam‘s post and the discussion that followed in the Member Chit Chat thread (please note that you’ll need to be logged in to AFF to view this thread).

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]