Etihad has left a number of Australians saddened over the weekend after it informed travellers who had purchased super cheap Etihad business class tickets to Europe on Skyscanner (which were available for purchase due to a website glitch) that they would not be honouring the fares.
Australian travellers who last week thought they had snaffled cheap flights to Europe found out on Sunday that Etihad will not, in fact, be coming to the party. This devastating news came after the travellers thought they had scored the deal of a lifetime – sub $500 flights to Europe, some of them business class.
One of the travellers told DMARGE that she bought a $150 business class flight to Europe, after being forwarded a message from a friend (which explained how to exploit the glitch). She said she and her friends all decided to “follow the instructions on it” and buy the cheap flights (a round trip from Sydney to Berlin can cost more than $3,000, usually).
“I booked for the 2nd of August , but a lot of people booked for summer next year to Berlin. I just got a one-way flight – business class – for $150 last Thursday.”
The plan didn’t last long though – on Sunday the traveller found out “the dream was over” and that “they are not going to honour it.” She also said she has received no compensation yet: “I haven’t received the refund [yet]. I just feel like a bunch of people are going to try to refute it as well because it’s really their [Etihad’s] fault.”
She said she holds Etihad responsible, saying although “we went through Skyscanner… at checkout, you end up on the Etihad website.”
“Skyscanner was the intermediary but ultimately the transaction was on their site.”
She says it has been a “whirlwind of emotion” and that she went from feeling this was a little bit too good to be true to feeling a little upset.
“It was a roller coaster of emotion. A bunch of friends got on it as well so the possibility that all of our friends were going to be in Europe next year was very exciting. So highest of high to the bursting of the bubble really.”
As for whether she is still going to go to Europe next year, she told DMARGE: “I might wait and see because I haven’t got a refund yet.”
“Luckily I was at the pub when I found out. There was a collective sigh (and collective sadness) but I don’t think it’s over yet… it was a mistake on their end.”
She also told DMARGE: “I think 7 years ago or something [in a similar situation] they still approved it after a glitch.”
She isn’t alone in this hope. As reported by news.com.au, another person who booked the flights using the glitch has said they are “surprised they actually pulled the pin on them all” considering the huge amount of press they generated.
“I thought the good press would have been enough to incentivise honouring them,” they said.
Etihad told affected passengers in an email: “A number of tickets on Etihad flights were sold incorrectly due to a glitch in a data system supplied by a third party.”
“We are working through bookings made and will be cancelling tickets issued and refund the amount you actually paid for the taxes back to your credit card.”
“Whilst the correct price was shown in the initial booking process at the time of payment, you were only asked to pay the taxes which was charged to your credit card.”
“We welcome you to make a new booking at the correct fare that should have been collected at the time of booking.”
Who will win this stand-off? Only time (and Etihad’s PR department) will tell…