This just in from Kathy, a reader: "Wondering if you heard about the Northwest snafu last Thursday? I purchased 2 round trip airline tix through Travelocity: MSP/Phx through Vegas (NW/US Air) for $150 each - it seemed like one of those rare 2-day fire sale fares! Saturday Travelocity sent me an e-mail stating NW refused to honor any of those tickets purchased on Thursday. I called NW to verify: they blamed the snafu on Travelocity - until I insisted, got a manager at NW, who admitted that a '3rd party' company published incorrect NW airfares to a group of NW fare partner sites (like Expedia, Orbitz, etc.) and NW would not honor any of the purchased tickets."
Was the "third party site" ATPCO, the Washington-based agency that distributes fares filed from the airlines to travel agency reservation systems such as Sabre, which Travelocity uses? We honestly don't know and Travelocity isn't saying.
This is all Kathy got back from Travelocity:
"Dear Valued Traveler,
On Thursday February 5th, Northwest Airlines filed a number of fares in error. Since then, Northwest has informed their travel partners that they will not honor the fares that were filed in error. In the best interests of our customers, like you, who booked one of these fares, we have voided the flight you purchased. Your credit card will not be charged and Travelocity service fees associated with your booking will be refunded. We apologize for any inconvenience. If you require assistance with booking new travel arrangements, please call us at 1-800-482-2422.
Proactive Customer Care
Odd thing is, $150 RT isn't unheard of on this route. It's not like the fare was $1.50 RT or something obviously a mistake. Clearly, the airlines are getting tougher with fare mistakes, which have been happening far less frequently than in the past.