More bait-and-switch madness: Fare isn’t fair on Sun Country

By | October 24th, 2008

No one likes to see an airline in bankruptcy, except maybe bankruptcy lawyers. But the least you’d expect is for a carrier in Chapter 11 to honor a fare. Maybe that’s asking too much from Sun Country Airlines.

Here’s what happened to Betty Hackbarth when she tried to book a flight from Minneapolis to South Padre, Tex.

I booked a ticket through a travel agency for $266. I gave the agent my American Express card and printed the confirmation.

A few days later, I received a call saying that the ticket price had gone up to $455, and that I would need to pay a price difference. I said that can’t be, because my family can’t afford more, plus I already have the confirmation that it was charged to my credit card.

How can they do that?

I suggested that Hackbarth ask the travel agency for details. Why would a ticket price almost double after the ticket was issued? She did.

They said that the reason they couldn’t honor the posted amount is because Sun Country pulled their posted contract amount because they are in bankruptcy. Personally, I believe they are just blowing smoke, and should have honored the posted amount.

Maybe some of the travel agents who read this blog can shed some light on this case. If a bankrupt airline pulls its contract rates with an agency, is it allowed to retroactively reprice tickets? Do passengers have any recourse when they do?

I think Hackbarth should contact American Express. Her card should offer some protection against this type of repricing — bankruptcy or not. Failing that, she may want to consider legal options.

And she definitely needs to let the Transportation Department and the Federal Trade Commission know what happened to her.

We want your feedback. Your opinion is important to us. Here's how you can share your thoughts:
  • Send us a letter to the editor. We'll publish your most thoughtful missives in our daily newsletter or in an upcoming post.
  • Leave a message on one of our social networks. We have an active Facebook page, a LinkedIn presence and a Twitter account. Every story on this site is posted on those channels. The conversation ranges from completely unmoderated (Twitter) to moderated (Facebook and LinkedIn).
  • Post a question to our help forums or ask our advocates for a hand through our assistance intake form. Please note that our help forum is not a place for debate. It's there primarily to assist readers with a consumer problem.
  • If you have a news tip or want to report an error or omission, you can email the site publisher directly. You may also contact the post's author directly. Contact information is in the author tagline.