The $550 each way Qantas first class tickets to Australia, sold as American Airlines codeshares, have a resolution.
These were coach fares, pulled out of a discount economy fare buckets, that were mistakenly booking into first class. Apparently Qantas itself had been selling tickets similarly recently, and had been telling customers they had coach tickets and weren’t going to fly in anything but coach.
American is taking a similar position. They are apparently providing the following options:
1) Buy F(irst class) for $12K, 2) Buy C(business class) for 4K, 3) Fly Y(coach) for fare paid, or 4) cancel. They’re also offering a $200 AA e-cert for the inconvenience. If you have accompanying non-refundable travel plans they’ll refund your out of pocket expenses.
If you don’t accept an option they’ll select one for you which I think will be rebooking in to Q(the discount economy coach bucket the fares were pulled from) with notes in the PNR saying you can cancel without penalty up until departure.
(Internal parentheticals above are mine.)
Still, folks who got in on this get a $200 travel voucher for their troubles..
Update: Lifted from the comments, Kiwi Flyer explains the difference between the American Airlines mistake (here) and the recent Qantas tickets in Australia with a similar problem…
Qantas hasn’t been selling economy tickets as first class. There have been some travel agents who did though, including at least one based in Australia.
Behind the scenes there is a difference between the cases.
In the travel agents on Qantas case, the booking code R was formerly used for first class and changed to have a different meaning but the travel agents did not update their systems promptly.
In the AA codeshare case, an industry travel fare appears to have been incorrectly set up as a public fare (mistake 1) and then modified the fare basis code to economy but the booking class code remained as first class (mistake 2).