Thursday, March 29, 2007

Is Air Canada double ticketing?

I actually like Air Canada. I've taken twenty flights since January, all of them on Air Canada (or a SA partner). They've all been pleasant, and their staff have been helpful (for instance, when I missed a connection mostly because of absentmindedness).

But today I was booking a flight to Chicago in two weeks. Air Canada offers the cheapest direct flight from Montreal. The indicated price with taxes and fees was $511. But then, just as I was about to hit click the price jumped to $554. I don't understand why, and I don't understand how this is different from double ticketing, a fraudulent practice in which stores "mistakenly" put two prices on an item but insist on charging the higher price at the register.

It's hard to know what to do in this case. Do I wait until I can talk to someone at AC, or do I book and then complain and hope to get the difference. If I do the first, I risk a higher price. If I do the second, I risk no refund of the difference. Damned if you do...

4 comments:

Mel T said...

Tough call, but I've had the opposite happen on a flight to Halifax. They dropped the price by about $100 return. If only it cut that way more often, eh?

Candace said...

I think what occurred here is typical of all airlines. X number of seats are available at the lowest price, then it moves up to Y, then Z etc (I would have started with A but that would have been confusing). Probably someone else was online at the same time as you (marginally earlier) and bought the last of the lower-priced tickets just before you hit "submit." It could happen in the reverse if someone changed/cancelled a reservation.

Peter Loewen said...

Candace: good explanation, but it doesn't work in this case. After this happened the first time I cancelled the transaction to start again. When I started again, the lower price was again advertised. Unless someone bought and then someone else cancelled in the 90 seconds it took me to go through these two steps then these explanations don't work, unfortunately.

varnson said...

I agree, I don't think Candace is right in this case. Once you go through the Air Canada online reservation system and select your flights, the system holds that seat for about 15 minutes. So you should have whatever price you saw before you go on to fill in your details.