BA’s latest reply on its ‘manifest’ fare errors


Over the past few weeks BA has made a number of mistakes. These have been apparent as very good value First and Business Class fares on various routes. After people booked, and in most cases were charged for them, BA decided that these were errors. Of course this sort of thing has happened for years. Sometimes the airline honours the fare and lets people fly, sometimes they cancel the tickets and sometimes they downgrade people half way through travel.

After initially honouring one set of mistakes starting from Scandinavia, BA took a harder line with later mistakes. They simply charged people, then quietly cancelled their tickets, told them this was an error a few days later and then processed the refunds at snail’s pace.

Of course, cancelling before you tell the customer is never good practise, but BA think they can get away with this.

BA claim that the fares were so low that it must have been obvious to the purchaser that the fare was a mistake. Excuse me?

With the cost of First and Business Class tickets varying massively across Europe, how is one supposed to know whether a ticket is a mistake or not?

I had booked one of these and got the standard email, but followed up by asking how I was supposed to know for the future whether a fare being sold on the BA web site was a mistake or a deal?

This is my reply:

Subject: Cancellation of your booking reference – XXXXXX

Thank you for contacting us in relation to the above reference.

We do apologise for the short delay in our response to you, but we wanted to ensure that we had reviewed your complaint in detail so that we could respond to your correspondence in full.

Over the past couple of weeks, BA has experienced some serious and extensive problems when filing first class fares both on its website and via other booking channels.  This has led to a situation where, over a short period of time, first class fares from some points in Europe to various long haul destinations have been offered at erroneous fares which fell vastly below the actual fares for the bookings involved.

With regard to flights departing from Germany, the error occurred when the fares were inputted into the system from which fares are published globally.  At that time, a “cut and paste” error was made which meant that the wrong fares were published against the wrong routes.  Consequently, the prices and the routes shown did not match.

As a result of the “cut and paste” error referred to above, the contract was not valid.

As soon as the error was noticed, we sought to correct it and to contact our customers to inform them of the error and cancellation of the booking.  We appreciate that this did not happen immediately in some cases, however it happened as soon as possible after the error was noticed.

If you still wish to travel on your chosen dates, we would recommend that you call our BA contact centre on 0844 493 0787 to discuss availability on your chosen route with one of our staff as soon as possible.  If you wish to make a new booking, we can arrange this on the telephone.

If, however, you choose not to travel at this time, given that the cancellation occurred as a result of a manifest error, we regret that we cannot reimburse any consequential losses for which you may claim.  We suggest that you contact your travel insurance provider in this situation, who may be able to assist.

We do appreciate that this situation has caused you great inconvenience and can only apologise for the error which has occurred.  We hope that you will choose to re-book on your chosen route so that you can travel on your intended date, as we do not wish to cause you any more inconvenience.

Whatever you choose to do, we sincerely hope that the above provides you with a satisfactory explanation of what happened at BA which caused you to complain, and you feel assured that we are taking steps to prevent this from happening again.

Best regards


I am still at a loss as to how the fare was ‘erroneous’ or how a fare offered on the web site was not an ‘actual fare’. Surely the actual fare is what they ask you to pay?

All around BA have behaved badly on these errors. However, they have made it clear that a deal isn’t done, even after it’s paid for.


  1. I suggest you contact the people you elect so Law can define when a contract, paid for, is in fact a contract.

    If one party can void it anytime, then the other party needs to have the same entitlement.

    There are countries where BA would not be free to walk out from a contract.

  2. What a rubbish reply by BA! It still doesn’t really answer your question. It also doesn’t make clear when a customer would know their booking was safe – 24h? 48h? 1 week? 1 month? On top of that it’s a downright lie to say they contacted customers in advance – everyone who booked it (and I didn’t) seemed to hear nothing until they saw it marked as cancelled!

  3. Here in the US, Frontier Airlines recently promoted a domestic fare sale of $1 + tax, so how can any airline claim that customers should know a mistake fare.

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