Korean Air Fumbles Fare Fiasco
NAPA, Calif., Nov. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- FlyersRights.org was inundated last week with calls and e-mail from passengers shocked to discover that Korean Air had canceled their confirmed ticket from U.S. departure points to the Pacific resort destination, Palau. The tickets, purchased by over 300 people during the first week in September, were confirmed for travel dates between November 30 and March, 2012. While the advertised rate was unusually low, travelers saw it as an "inaugural" fare for a new route.
6 weeks later, Korean Air notified the DOT that that the fare was advertised in error, asserting that it was a special fare intended to be available only to travel agents as a means of promoting the airline's inaugural service between North America and Palau, but mistakenly made available to the public at large.
They claimed that the fare restriction was clearly identified. The identification was an obscure fare basis code "AD75" only shown in the mouse print fare rules and restrictions. Expecting passengers to understand these codes is tantamount to publishing the rules in a foreign language, requiring passengers to use a translation dictionary.
Affected passengers were not notified until November 7th, fully two months after the erroneous bookings.
The airline offered full ticket reimbursement, reimbursement for "travel-related" out of pocket expenses, a $200 voucher, and repurchase at the lowest fare available during the last year. However, that fare is nearly 50% higher than the booked fare, and was a deal-breaker for many of the passengers. The meaning of "travel-related expenses" is not clear. Further, the 111 passengers in contact with FlyersRights have yet to receive a penny of reimbursement. Finally, the notification delay almost certainly moved the travelers into a much more expensive ticket price range, making the $200 voucher of questionable value.
Kate Hanni, Director of FlyersRights.org, noted that "This error destroyed the dreams of many people. A blind PhD candidate, Melissa P. Resnick, M.S., in Texas, who dreamed of swimming with dolphins, something she is prohibited from doing in the U.S., said, 'Korean Air may have destroyed a life-long dream of this blind lady.'"
Hanni said, "Korean Air broke a deal. By waiting two months to notify their customers, they broke the dreams of hundreds of passengers and effectively extorted them for more money to rebook."
FlyersRights.org is the largest non-profit airline passenger organization in the U.S. w/50,000 members and a toll free hotline, 1-877-359-3776.