Singapore Airlines Refusing to Honor Business Class Mistake Fare

My cousin Lauren passes along this piece about a Singapore Airlines business class mistake fare that the airline apparently doesn’t want to honor.

Singapore Airlines loaded business-class fares for flights between Australia and London into a global booking system that travel agents use to sell tickets to their customers.

The cost of business-class tickets that should have sold for up to $6000 a piece for flights from December 8 was loaded into the global distribution system, or GDS as it is known in the travel trade, for as little as $3500.

While less than the intended price, it doesn’t strike me as good enough to warrant a blog post as a sale fare let alone a mistake (even accounting for that fact that $3500 Australian dollars is about US$2950).

It’s hardly obvious to me that travelers would necessarily know a $3000 business class fare was a mistake and not a sale.

So far, though, Singapore isn’t budging.

The airline was finally alerted to the error by Flight Centre.
However, Singapore Airlines has since told travel agents who sold the cheap tickets that they will have to seek the difference between the actual price and what they should have sold for from their customers, or foot the bill themselves.

In the U.S. this one would be a no-brainer, covered by DOT rules forbidding post-purchase price increases (at least unless those fares were posted on frequent flyer forums and blogs).

Here’s how to find airline and hotel mistake deals. And here are the very best mistake deals we’ve seen.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I had the same thoughts when I saw this earlier today. Absolutely ridiculous of Singapore. I hope those seats fly empty.

  2. Singspore is pushing their luck. I wouldn’t be surprised a rule on mistake fares will be crafted after this.

  3. Not a smart move. If they said “normally, we don’t honor mistake fares, but since this one was not egregious we will honor this,” nobody would’ve said much.

    But you know how to piss off travel agents of — in this case — well heeled customers? Make them go back to the customers later and say they need to pay more or cancel their ticket–or make the agents themselves pay.

    You know who else flies from Australia to London? Cathay, Emirates, Qatar, Etihad, etc to name a few. They have perfectly good business class cabins, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this pushed several agents away from SQ and toward them in terms of future recommendations.

  4. No one here thinks like SQ, particularly Gene- in ~300 flights, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a full J or full F section. SQ treats the premium class seats as a Veblen good, thus their horror at the “discount” prices offered.

    I do think there’s an economic model for charging a premium price for a scarce good- Hermes could sell 10x the number of Kelly bags they do, but chooses not to do so.

    As for those of you who argue that an airline seat is a commodity good, there’s a thread in the SQ flyer talk forum debating MH J vs SQ Y- where the business fare is cheaper than the economy!

    Finally, Nic, a rule limiting SQ’s ability to charge more? That’ll come right after the rule limiting politicians from launching community enhancement programs ~6 months before general elections (eg, never).

  5. @George: Veblen good? I’d say it’s a Giffen good:

    SQ is saying, “If you don;t Giffen us the money, we ain’t Giffen you da goods”

  6. SQ may covet their premium cabins, but they probably value their ability to fly to the countries they serve more highly. As Gary said, if this were a SIN-JFK fare, they would be honoring it–or maybe they prefer to pay the fine, though that seems more like an EK-set-cash-on-fire move.

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