Bay Area traveler frustrated with mismarked plane ticket

December 15, 2009 7:12:56 PM PST
A mismarked plane ticket has caused some grief for Bay Area passengers and for the airline responsible for the problem.

The problem occurred just as holiday travel was beginning to get all of our attention.

Siddharth Dutta, he goes by Sid, was shopping for a plane ticket back home to India when he found a good deal on British Airways.

He booked it, only to be told a couple weeks later the fare would not be honored.

"The first thing she said was, 'So, you canceled your ticket'. I said, 'No I did not cancel my ticket'. And she said, 'Well, British Airways, it is a corporate decision, we have decided not to honor the ticket, we have canceled your ticket," he said.

Why? Well the airline says it meant to post a new flight price to India that cost an additional $40, when it accidentally made the price $40.

Travel attorney Al Anolik says the theory goes passengers should have known it was a mistake. It is a theory he does not subscribe to.

"They saw a $40 fare, but along with that fare was a $370 fuel surcharge during a time when there wasn't a fuel problem and another $150 in taxes, so it wasn't so bad that someone would automatically say it was a mistake," he said.

Sid actually paid $554.30. It is not that far off from the price another airline was charging a couple weeks later, $742.90.

"Within in a couple of hours they had 2,000 tickets sold. British Airways looked at it and says we made a unilateral mistake and we are not going to honor it. You can't do that," said Anolik.

British airways offered a $300 voucher for a future flight and it's not good enough many said, and many of them called 7 on Your Side to complain.

They were referred on to Anolik and he told them to file small claims actions and tell the Department of Transportation.

The DOT actually got on British Airways and the airline has now agreed to work with each customer individually.

Sid is still negotiating with the airline, but he continues to pursue a small claims suit, just in case.

"They gave me a call because they would like to settle outside court and I sent them an email with all the documentation, I have the documentation, and that person did not get back to me yet," said Sid.

British Airways told 7 On Your Side it apologizes. They said it was simple human error and is working with all affected customers.

The lesson here is there has been a change in Washington when it comes to consumer protection. Complain if you feel wronged and there could be action.


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