About ten days ago, Travelocity displayed a business class fare from several European cities to Shanghai for US$671 on Alitalia.
It was an “I” fare, or so the fare rules suggested — special promotional business class fare. Turns out that for the same exact price there was an “L” fare, the least expensive coach fare available. The price was intended for the coach fare, but it displayed with business class fare rules by mistake.
When the fare was purchased, it never said there was a lack of availability in I class or that it was being booked in something other than business. But the tickets were sold in L class, and Alitalia had record of a coach purchase.
Travelocity was initially unhelpful.
Now, this wasn’t a $0 fare. And it wasn’t a $20 fare, like British Airways had in World Traveler Plus to anywhere in Europe a couple years ago. It was cheap for business class, to be sure, but transatlantic business class regularly drops from five or eight grant to twelve hundred dollars in winter. And the fare was labeled as a special promotional fare.
Eventually, after lots of stonewalling and several powerless reps telling customers more or less to suck rocks, Travelocity came through. And I understand that Chris Elliott was helpful in making this happen.
While I’ve criticized a few of Chris’ columns, I’ve also given him props for his ‘fix my trip’ ombudsman pieces. He’s fair, willing to tell a traveler when they’re wrong, but also willing to help. And goodness knows that customers sometimes need help dealing with large faceless bureaucracies with disempowered employees. Mad props to Chris for helping out on this!