CALGARY – Air Canada is answering to angry clients after a “computer error” caused flights to be advertised at 10 per cent of their actual price.
Air Canada advertised a 10-credit flight pass for $800 on Tuesday night (meaning 10 one-way flights). Many people jumped on what they thought was a deal and bought the pass. When they tried to book flights, the clients said they were unable to do so.
Frequent traveler Chris Adam said he purchased the pass Wednesday night for $837 and received an email receipt right away.
“Then the website crashed; I thought maybe a lot of people are taking advantage of it,” said Adam. “Today when I went to book the flights, it was empty. None of the flights showed up on my profile.”
Customers who wrote into Global News and posted on social media also said the next day the passes were removed from their accounts without any notification or refund.
Adam sent in a screenshot showing Air Canada’s claim that “the price of the Flight Pass is guaranteed. You will pay nothing more if the price of the Flight Pass changes after you purchase it.” He said that FAQ section was later removed.
Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick said in a statement a “computer loading error resulted in a temporary mispricing of a West Coast flight pass product for Business Class travel” on Aug. 25.
“The product, good for 10 flight legs, was displayed at CAD$800 instead of the correct price of CAD$8,000. Once Air Canada became aware of the error on the evening of August 26, the passes were withdrawn from sale and the booking of flight credits was inhibited. Air Canada is contacting purchasers to apologize and provide a refund. However, any flight pass credit bookings already made using the passes will be honored.”
Adam wondered how any bookings could have been completed when he was told there was a waiting period.
“There’s a 24-hour waiting period before you can book a flight pass, because I tried to redeem them last night,” he said. “And then a little message said, ‘it’ll be finalized after a certain point.’”
Fitzpatrick didn’t have numbers on how many people were able to book with the passes, but said in an email that “people who used pass credits to book trips before the error was discovered will be able to use them to travel as we realize they may have made plans, booked hotels etc.”
Three Vancouver brothers, who are also lawyers, are planning to fight after their passes were removed.
“Hopefully this shouldn’t require a big fight, and it shouldn’t require litigation. They should hold up their end of the bargain, and they should abide by the deal they struck with their customers,” said Ben Tarnow, a civil litigation lawyer.
His brother Jason agreed.
“Air Canada has this you see quite often, #makeamazing. So I hope Air Canada makes amazing and holds true to their offer and honours these purchases that were made.”
Below is an apology letter from Air Canada sent to one Vancouver customer who purchased the pass:
We’re in touch with you regarding the Western USA Plus Pass that you recently purchased from Air Canada that was, unfortunately, incorrectly priced and is now corrected. Let me first say that we’re sorry for the inconvenience and misperception this error caused and outlined below are details of what happened and the steps we’re taking to correct this error and a gesture of thank you for your understanding.
On the evening of August 25th, a computer loading error resulted in a temporary mispricing of our Western USA Plus Pass product for Business Class travel. This product, good for 10 one-way flights, was mistakenly displayed at $800 instead of the correct price of $8,000. When we became aware of this error 24 hours later, the passes were withdrawn from sale and the booking of flights was inhibited.
We understand your disappointment and trust you understand we cannot honour the Flight Passes mistakenly sold at 10% of their value. Therefore, any Flight Passes purchased at the incorrect $800 price will be cancelled and refunded. If you have already made any credit bookings with your incorrectly-priced Flight Pass, however, these flights WILL be honoured and the remaining credits cancelled and refunded on a prorated basis. We appreciate your understanding and to express our thanks, if you choose to re-purchase this Flight Pass at the correct price, we will add an 11th flight credit to the package for free. (Once you complete your purchase, simply eMail us at email@example.com with your Flight Pass number and we will process the extra credit.)
Thank you for your support for Air Canada and, as always, we look forward to welcoming you onboard.”