Brazil’s Ministry of Justice and Public Security and the National Consumer Defense Secretariat have fined Iberia 1.3 million reais (about $260,000) after the Spanish airline canceled about 4,000 return tickets between Rio de Janeiro and Paris. The tickets were sold late last year at the wrong price of US$118. Let’s investigate further.
A big mistake
On December 28, 2021, Iberia launched a promotion to fly between Brazil and Europe but announced the wrong price. Instead of selling the tickets at the authorized fare of US$1,180, the Spanish carrier sold them for US$118.
The erroneous fare quickly went viral with thousands of travelers buying tickets for around three hours before the error was finally corrected. According to the Brazilian government, 4,000 tickets were sold at this price.
The following day, the travelers received a message from Iberia stating that their tickets had been cancelled. The airline said it was human error and not a promotional error. Moreover, he added that the error went viral because “specific sites download rates below the market price. »
A similar error occurred this month in Argentina. A glitch on the Spanish travel agency eDreams website allowed passengers to buy round-trip tickets from Argentina to Doha for just US$1.50. Air France would be the airline carrying these passengers. Nevertheless, after a few hours the tickets were cancelled. The impacted customers are currently suing eDreams to meet its contractual obligation.
Iberia sold 4,000 return tickets at the wrong price last year. Photo: Guillermo Quiroz Martínez via @gquimar.
Iberia fined in Brazil
Following the December error, the National Consumer Defense Secretariat launched an investigation in Brazil.
According to the Secretariat, Iberia failed to fulfill its contractual obligation and violated Articles 4 and 2 of the Consumer Defense Code.
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According to this code, companies must have “effective means of controlling the quality and safety of products and services, as well as alternative mechanisms for resolving consumer disputes” and assume responsibility for any risk when offering a product. Therefore, Iberia should have found a different solution for its customers following the error.
Iberia was fined 1.3 million reais (about US$260,000) and there is no appeal against the decision; the Spanish carrier has 30 days to pay the fine, according to the Secretariat.
Every once in a while, an airline mistakenly displays the wrong fare and travelers take advantage of it. Photo: Getty Images
Other erroneous tariffs
In the past, several other airlines have mistakenly published incorrect fares and faced legal issues similar to Iberia in Brazil.
In 2015, United Airlines sold thousands of first-class tickets for less than US$100, but was able to cancel those tickets and defend itself because third-party exchange rate software caused the error.
A few years ago, British Airways published cheap tickets from London to Tel Aviv and Dubai for US$220, while a round trip usually costs US$600. The carrier realized their mistake, canceled the deal and offered a full refund plus a US$130 travel voucher.
Finally, in 2019, an error on the Cathay Pacific website sold first class seats from New York to Da Nong in Vietnam, appearing at US$675, just a little less than the US$16,000 they are looking for. usually. The airline honored its mistake.
Have you ever benefited from an “error tariff”? Which airline made the mistake and where did you end up flying to? Let us know in the comments below.
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