It occasionally happens that airlines publish offers that were not intended as such. A pretty obvious error was, e.g. the business class flights from Indonesia to the USA for around €300 earlier this spring. Consequently, ANA promptly cancelled those tickets. Most customers understood, although their understanding was dampened by the airline’s unprofessional behaviour – in some cases, the cancellations were made months after booking.
Now, a different piece of news is more surprising. On August 13, we reported on a good deal from Oman Air: Business class flights from Milan to Bangkok were available starting from €1,052. Within a few hours, the sale was over and was subsequently forgotten. However, Oman Air has now unexpectedly announced that the deal will not be honoured.
Oman Air Demands an Additional €1,000, or else the Tickets Will Be Cancelled
In the email we received, it states, among other things:
We regret to inform you that an unfortunate error occurred during the fare filing process, which resulted in the wrong fare being filed for your reservation. Given that this was an error, please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience or confusion this may have caused.
More important than the apology is the following part. Oman Air informs customers that they cannot travel with their booked tickets at the originally agreed price. Instead, three alternatives are offered, although they are not really alternatives:
- Full refund and cancellation of tickets.
- Downgrade to economy class at no additional cost. Additionally, a difference in taxes between business and economy class would be refunded (likely a few euros).
- Keep the tickets for an additional payment of €1,000. This supposedly corresponds to a discount of €400 compared to the normal price.
Furthermore, it is stated that a refund will be automatically initiated if there is no response within 7 days. Unfortunately, Oman Air’s proposed solutions (except for the refund) are all rather ridiculous. Economy tickets from Milan to Bangkok are currently available for around €600, including baggage. Even Oman Air offers them starting at €729. So, why would anyone pay over €1,000 for that?
The option of paying an additional €1,000 to fly in business class is not much better. In total, you would be paying over €2,000 per ticket. Etihad offers the same price, and no one would likely travel to Italy for such a “deal”.
Not All Customers (Yet) Informed
So far, the comments section of the original deal has remained absolutely quiet. Apparently, only customers who booked directly with Oman Air have been notified so far, and probably not all of them. It seems that the list of bookings is being processed manually, one by one.
I personally booked the offer at that time (as a travel agency) and haven’t heard anything from Oman Air yet. However, I would assume that now all bookings will indeed be cancelled, not just a selected few.
What Happens Next?
It’s uncommon for a flight booking to be cancelled after such a long time. If an airline decides not to honour an error fare, communication usually takes place within a few days after booking.
That’s why we advise waiting to book connecting flights, hotels, etc. for potentially critical offers until the situation is clear. A warning of this kind was actually included in the deal on August 13 – even though we never expected a cancellation.
If anyone knows a good Italian lawyer for passenger rights and insists on flying with the tickets, it might be worth a try. More stress-free would probably be accepting the cancellation, avoiding Oman Air in the future, and waiting for the next offer.
The lines between flash sales and error fares are becoming increasingly blurred – and as a customer, it’s difficult to discern what is an error and what is not. Business flights to Thailand for €1,050 are by no means an obvious error. For instance, Lufthansa offered flights from Scandinavia to Bangkok for €1,375 in June.
Whether an error or not, a cancellation after 2 weeks without prior notice reflects very poorly. Other airlines show how it can be done better: For instance, Cathay Pacific sold first-class tickets across the Pacific for less than €1,000 roundtrip during New Year’s Eve 2018/19. In this case, the error was clearly recognizable. Nevertheless, Cathay publicly announced that the error would be honoured – and used the message’s spread as self-promotion.
Cover Picture: u278 (Public Domain), Fotomontage Travel-Dealz