Air France won't honor ticket price after purchase

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Feb 18, 2018
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On February 14, my two Vietnamese friends bought and paid (two separate reservations booked online on the Air France website) for tickets SGN - CDG on Air France, traveling in August. They both paid and received confirmations for their reservations. The fares of VND 4,872,000 (about $220 USD each) were booked and purchased on the Air France website.

Then, with no explanation, Air France "refunded" their two tickets (see attached). Obviously, they are both disappointed, and I told them I would ask for advice. I'm not sure who to contact for AF help overseas. I told them I would try to help, since their English is not fluent enough to discuss the problem in English.

There is (or I can find) no mention of any fare errors on the Air France site. I have read a lot of online articles about "error fares" - and, in particular, your reluctance to advocate for cheaters who try to scam the system (e.g. Koreanair thread).

However, I often see airlines (especially in Asia) often offer some very discounted fares with promotional pricing. This fare was also offered/booked during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday when promotional fares are common. These were only coach tickets, so its not like some first-class ticket that was offered for an absurdly low price.

I would appreciate your help in asking Air France to honor the fares for these two tickets. My friends have not responded to Air France yet in any way.

Thank you for your consideration.
 

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VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
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First a point of order: Please remove the personal information from your post: names, reservation numbers,etc. You should remove the PDF, edit out that content, and then re-post.

The phrase they used: "This document has been refunded according to the usage conditions displayed to you at the time of the request and that are available on our website airfrance.com" is interesting. I looked up the two words "usage conditions" for Air France and found it in their Information System Usage Charter.

If the Information System Usage Charter document is the source for that phrase in the refund, I wonder if they somehow booked while connected to an Air France site from another country (i.e., not Vietnam).
 
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Feb 18, 2018
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First a point of order: Please remove the personal information from your post: names, reservation numbers,etc. You should remove the PDF, edit out that content, and then re-post.

The phrase they used: "This document has been refunded according to the usage conditions displayed to you at the time of the request and that are available on our website airfrance.com" is interesting. I looked up the two words "usage conditions" for Air France and found it in their Information System Usage Charter.

If the Information System Usage Charter document is the source for that phrase in the refund, I wonder if they somehow booked while connected to an Air France site from another country (i.e., not Vietnam).

Thanks for your comments - I think I fixed everything. I was there when he booked his ticket - it was just the www.airfrance.com website. Then you "SELECT YOUR SITE": we chose ASIA_PACIFIC, and then "SELECT YOUR SITE" again, with a list of countries. We chose VIETNAM - and then booked/paid for the ticket.

One of my friends told me that he has since heard that some Vietnamese living in France bought the same deal and traveled to Vietnam for the Lunar New Year. He said their return reservations briefly disappeared, but then showed up again a few hours later. If this was a fare error, maybe they did not want to strand the travelers who were already flying on the fare in mid-trip. Still, if AF is going to honor the fare for some people, they should honor it for everyone who booked in good faith.
 

Carrie Livingston

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@saidthedog please check out our Company Contacts page located here. We have tips on how to write the contacts. We have contacts for Air France here. I think you could write an email for them and then work through it that way.
 
Feb 18, 2018
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@saidthedog please check out our Company Contacts page located here. We have tips on how to write the contacts. We have contacts for Air France here. I think you could write an email for them and then work through it that way.

Thank you, Carrie. I did look at this page, but it states first: "For Air France tickets purchased in the US go to this link and click on your issue to get a case number http://www.airfrance.us/US/en/local/transverse/footer/nous-contacter.htm." Since this ticket was purchased in Vietnam via the Air France website here, I wasn't sure whether to try that step first - or just send my story to the primary AF Executive contact. I don't want to confuse the issue. Which would you suggest? Thank you.
 

VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
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As Carrie stated, Air France should be able to explain. However, they may require your friends to write them as they were the ticket holders.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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The fare is clearly a mistake fare and Air France caught it quickly. $220 round trip for a 12 plus hour trip each way (and barely covers the taxes in France let alone Vietnam) is not believable as a fare.

There have been numerous issues with computer errors with Air France in the past months. The airline is not required to honor the fare and rarely does. It does not matter if it is in economy or first class.

Saidthedog you know this is a mistake fare and have been looking for information then you have seen all the discussions on flyertalk and in French forums about error fares and that the airlines are not under obligation under French or even US law to honor them. Unless there is something in Vietnamese law that would require it, which is doubtful, there is little hope for the ticket getting honored.

Unless your friends never travel it is hard to believe that they were unaware that this was a mistake fare. And just because it worked for some is not a credible argument for getting the ticket honored.

You can write but it is unlikely that the airline will reinstate the ticket.
 
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Neil Maley

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Do your friends reside in the US? I am sure if you look at disclaimers they state somewhere that reservations can be canceled if there is a fare error. Every airline has a disclaimer somewhere in their terms about fare errors.

Here is a story day about it and the DOT rules state that airlines do not have to honor mistake fares.

https://thepointsguy.com/2017/12/air-france-canceling-mistake-fare/
 
Feb 18, 2018
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As Carrie stated, Air France should be able to explain. However, they may require your friends to write them as they were the ticket holders.

Thank you. Thus far, there has been no additional information from Air France other than the memo I posted which cited no information regarding the refund. Per Carrie's suggestion, I will follow up with the Executive contacts, and post any new information should I receive any. I appreciate your time.
 
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Feb 18, 2018
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Do your friends reside in the US? I am sure if you look at disclaimers they state somewhere that reservations can be canceled if there is a fare error. Every airline has a disclaimer somewhere in their terms about fare errors.

Here is a story day about it and the DOT rules state that airlines do not have to honor mistake fares.

https://thepointsguy.com/2017/12/air-france-canceling-mistake-fare/

Thank you, Neil. That was also the only article I could find that discussed any instance of an AF fare error (although for a much higher class of service) and their mixed responses/decisions to the customers. Above all, it highlighted the pattern of AF not to offer any information to the consumers - regarding any mistakes - in their communication. Thanks again for taking your time to help.
 
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Feb 18, 2018
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The fare is clearly a mistake fare and Air France caught it quickly. $220 round trip for a 12 plus hour trip each way (and barely covers the taxes in France let alone Vietnam) is not believable as a fare.

There have been numerous issues with computer errors with Air France in the past months. The airline is not required to honor the fare and rarely does. It does not matter if it is in economy or first class.

Saidthedog you know this is a mistake fare and have been looking for information then you have seen all the discussions on flyertalk and in French forums about error fares and that the airlines are not under obligation under French or even US law to honor them. Unless there is something in Vietnamese law that would require it, which is doubtful, there is little hope for the ticket getting honored.

Unless your friends never travel it is hard to believe that they were unaware that this was a mistake fare. And just because it worked for some is not a credible argument for getting the ticket honored.

You can write but it is unlikely that the airline will reinstate the ticket.

Christina, thank you for your response. Contrary to your opinion, I would have no idea whether or not this was a mistake fare or not. I'm sure you have more flying experience than most, but I think its safe to say the average consumer has no idea about the historical IT issues AF has encountered with its reservation/ticketing system or French flyer forums. Otherwise, I would not have requested assistance here.

I do realize airlines (and other businesses) have no obligation to honor errors in advertising. My purpose was simply to request input and assistance from a forum where I have found helpful information in the past. Since AF did honor some of the fares, I do not see any reason not to request they honor my friends' reservations. I'm sure you are correct regarding the likelihood AF will reinstate the tickets. At the very least, they could have offered an explanation and/or apology for their mistake. However, I will let AF decide what is - or isn't - a credible argument, since it appears that AF, and other airlines, have shown a mixed response to this particular issue in the past.

As a matter of fact, my friends rarely have the opportunity to travel. You might be surprised to know the average salary in Vietnam is about $236 USD/month. On average, a university teacher in Vietnam with an advanced degree takes home a little over $200 USD/month. So, while $220 USD might be a nice day at the spa for you, it represents a significant portion of an annual income here.
 
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Thank you all for your assistance. I will continue to follow up with the AF Executive contacts, and if I have any new information I will post it here.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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As a matter of fact, my friends rarely have the opportunity to travel. You might be surprised to know the average salary in Vietnam is about $236 USD/month. On average, a university teacher in Vietnam with an advanced degree takes home a little over $200 USD/month. So, while $220 USD might be a nice day at the spa for you, it represents a significant portion of an annual income here.

You might be surprised to know that I did not base the supposition that it was a mistake fare on the cost of a spa day where I live (which is more than $220 for a day) but on the average cost of a round trip fare from SGN to HAN on Vietnam Airlines, or even the low cost carriers Jetstar and VietAir in local currency and proportionately for the distance it does not make sense.

There are reports that there were over 2,000 tickets sold ... and people have admitted to knowing that this was a mistake fare; the error fare was corrected quickly. And how did people know it was a mistake fare -- because the fare came up as O (zero) and the charges paid were only for taxes and fees. Now some passengers are threatening to sue, and given this is going to be under the laws in Vietnam (where purchased) or France, it is uncertain whether Air France US would be able to do anything as they are not familiar with the local laws.

If your friends are inexperienced travelers then it must have been sheer good luck that they happened to book a ticket on the day that there was a computer error.
 
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Neil Maley

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And if they haven’t traveled yet they may get to the airport and find out their tickets are canceled. Just because they haven’t gotten any emails yet doesn’t mean the fate is going to be honored.