Protect yourself from being the next victim!
So you finally found that smokin’ business class flight deal you’ve been waiting for. A regularly-priced $6,000 business class ticket on Qatar Airways last week “magically” plummets 65% to $2,100.
You know a good deal when you see it. You don’t hesitate. You jump in with both feet and buy it now! You receive your email confirmation showing that you’re seated in seat 3C, and think you’re all set, right?
When an airline sees an opportunity to get more money for your paid ticket, they will take advantage of it. Even though you’ve bought a business seat, carriers frequently try to sell the same seat to you -- yes, 3C -- for more money to other travelers. When airlines sell more tickets than seats, someone has to lose. On September 18th, this exact scenario played out when Qatar Airways decided “Sean from Pittsburgh” would be the biggest loser.
The One World carrier recklessly cancelled Sean’s paid business class reservation between Athens and Doha, freeing up a seat on a sold-out flight. Even though Qatar Airways had already committed seat 3C to Sean, this obviously meant nothing. Qatar Airways shamelessly resold the same seat to another traveler – and likely for more money. The Middle Eastern airline didn’t bother to tell Sean what it had done. No email, no texts, no phone calls, no nothing! Qatar Airways pretended like nothing happened, allowing Sean to casually show up at the Athens airport before advising him that his reservation was (intentionally) cancelled (likely for more money.
Nobody likes being inconvenienced, and who likes being involuntarily downgraded from business to economy? Qatar Airways could have atoned for its missteps by allowing Sean to travel as scheduled in coach class. Instead, Qatar Airways continued its lie claiming the original flight was sold out despite making seats available on third party websites. The One World carrier made Sean scramble to buy a new ticket a new ticket in coach online for the same exact flight on the airline had already been paid. Qatar Airways claimed Sean’s onward travel a few days later between Doha and Chicago was reinstated and remained intact. Qatar Airways even emailed Sean another confirmation, listing his next flight between Doha and Chicago as confirmed on business class. Unfortunately, Qatar Airways wasn’t through making Sean’s travel itinerary a complete nightmare.
After the Athens fiasco, Sean was extremely nervous about his onward Doha-Chicago flight with Qatar Airways. Sean’s immediate priority was for an uneventful and uninterrupted return flight to Chicago on business class. Sean contacted Qatar Airways, which reassured him that everything was all set and confirmed for his September 21st flight to Chicago. So what did Sean find out after arriving at the airport in Doha? Qatar Airways lied again, and the situation went from bad to worse!
The carrier claimed that because Sean didn’t fly between Athens and Doha on the first ticket, they wouldn’t allow him to fly as scheduled between Doha and Chicago. As a reminder, it was Qatar Airways that cancelled Sean’s initial reservation trying to squeeze out more money from other travelers by overbooking the flight. It was also Qatar Airways that forced Sean to purchase another ticket (in economy) between Athens and Doha for a flight he had already paid for in business class. Qatar Airways put its head in the sand, pretending that Sean, rather than the carriers’ greed, caused this debacle. The final straw occurred when Qatar Airways forced Sean to pay several thousand dollars to board the exact same flight he had already purchased, but that the airline cancelled. Sean bit his tongue, paying the airline and knowing he had been taken for a fool.
In total, Qatar Airways was paid three times for the same trip while reselling the business class seat Sean initially bought for more money. In case there are any doubters, Qatar Airways and the One World Alliance should review the history associated with the following tickets:
• 157 7856 883 576
• 157 7856 141 309
• 157 2358 659 317
We’ve tried to reach out to Qatar Airways on Sean’s behalf, but they continue to ignore the situation. They’re just waiting for time to pass hoping for the story just goes away. As long as we have a freedom of speech and Qatar Airways continues to disregard Sean’s reimbursement demands, we won’t let this story just go away. Premium cabin travelers have a right to know how poorly some airlines treat premium cabin flyers. If Qatar Airways profited from the unauthorized cancellation of Sean’s initial reservation, shouldn’t Sean be entitled to that profit? After all, Sean assumed the risk by initially buying the seat at a mutually agreed-upon price. Qatar Airways later decided it needed more money and resold seat 3C, regardless of the discomfort and inconvenience it caused Sean. This compensation is in addition to the refunds Qatar Airways owes Sean for triplicated ticket purchases.
Additionally, why was Sean forced to suffer and be inconvenienced even though he had bought the seat first. Qatar Airways could have reinstated Sean’s originally reservation, but didn’t. Why? Money. Qatar Airways chose to award the seat to whoever paid more, without ever giving Sean the chance to match the bid!
So, what’s the moral of the story? Obviously, travel on Qatar Airways is currently a buyer beware scenario. We invite Qatar Airways to respond to this sequence of events and reimburse this traveler for his involuntary ticket purchases and downgrades.
Additionally, this scenario is not limited to Qatar Airways. It could happen on any airline. Airlines have conditioned us all to put an unequivocal amount of trust in e-tickets and airlines’ confirmation emails. Sure, a reservation may be intact when the email is sent, but what’s to stop an airline from cancelling flights and reselling seats to a higher bidder at a later date? Nothing. It happened to Sean and could happen to you.
We’re all just guests of an airline. Unless you have access to a G6, you’re just as likely to be inconvenienced by an airline as Sean from Pittsburgh. Protect yourself with frequent ‘check ups’ of your reservation between the date of purchase and the departure date. Once a week, enter your booking locator on the airlines website to be sure it’s still there. If you can’t see the reservation, this could be a signal of potential problems. At least you can contact the carrier to solve the problem in advance rather than praying for a last minute airport fix on the day of travel.
This may seem like a waste of time, but it could save you lots of aggravation later. Not convinced? Just ask Sean from Pittsburgh.
As for Qatar Airways, we've got our eyes on you. We're all awaiting a response and making Sean from Pittsburgh "whole".