What was thought to be a ‘Valentine’s Day’ gift by Air France to customers in Vietnam turned out to be a pricing error, with the carrier vowing to fully refund passengers who had their bookings, made at unusually cheap prices, canceled.
On February 14, users of the Air France mobile app in Vietnam were stunned to see tickets to Paris listed at a zero fare and they only had to pay taxes between VND4-5 million (US$170-220). The normal airfare for flights between Vietnam and France is no less than VND20 million ($880) per round trip.
Many passengers managed to book flights to France with the incredibly cheap airfares, and some even took further steps, such as seeking for leave at work or arranging accommodations in their destinations, for the low-cost holiday that came out of the blue.
However, on February 16, these flyers were notified by Air France via email that their bookings were canceled, with the carrier, citing ‘technical error,’ promising to give them a full refund.
Prior to the cancelations, many passengers were able to actually fly to France with their bookings, angering those hit by the sudden move from the carrier.
Some angry customers thus flocked to the Air France Vietnam office in Hanoi to seek an explanation on Wednesday.
Delphine Buglio, country manager for Air France in Vietnam, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that the pricing error was caused by a glitch in the mobile version of the Air France website, not only in Vietnam but also in Indonesia.
The incorrectly displayed airfare, zero fare plus tax, is normally only available to users who log in the app with their Flying Blue frequent flyer account, according to Buglio.
“This is a technical error, therefore we have cancelled the bookings and are refunding the customers,” she told Tuoi Tre via an email.
“All customers have been informed by email about the cancellation and the ongoing refund.”
Many affected passengers have complained that the mistake on the airline side has caused many troubles for them, especially those who already arranged specific plans and booked hotels in Paris.
Buglio said those who have engaged non-refundable expenses related to their trip before the cancelations may also be refunded “under specific conditions.”
They are advised to fill in a reclamation form at https://www.airfrance.vn/VN/en/local/transverse/footer/reclamation.htm
The Air France executive also admitted that some passengers were able to complete their first-leg flight to France, and their return flights would not be subject to cancelation.
“For those who booked tickets with immediate departure following the technical issue on [February 14], we had to let them come back and complete their return journey,” she explained.
Buglio said Air France “sincerely [regrets] any disappointment the customers may have felt,” but refused to comment on reports that a group of Vietnamese customers plan to sue Air France for their legitimate interests.