Some Final Thoughts On The El Al Fare Glitch

-I’m still getting angry emails from people who subscribe to the once daily 3pm digest of deals that they missed out on the deal.
Folks, if you want to be instantly alerted of the deals I post you should follow @DansDeals! You can then even opt-in to get a text message (and choose which hours of the night not to bother you) whenever DansDeals.com is updated!

-El Al played the entire saga brilliantly.  They let confusion rule during the free cancellation period so that as many people as possible would cancel their tickets.  Once that period ended they displayed even more of their business acumen.

The decision to let people “upgrade” their flights is really a win-win for El Al.  If people fly on American, British, or Swiss that means El Al having to pay those carriers for your seat.  However if you switch to fly on El Al you won’t cost El Al a thing, except for their opportunity cost of selling more seats in case the flight is completely sold out.  Not only that, but they generate an extra $150 in revenue.  $150 is also a price point that I think most people will probably consider worth paying to save themselves the hassle of having to connect in Europe.

For El Al to turn this from money-losing $335-$435 tickets on other airlines into $485-$585 seats to fill up space on their own aircraft that will cost them practically nothing is indeed a brilliant solution. Sure they could’ve offered it for free, but they know that people are willing to pay a nominal fee to fly nonstop, so I have no problem with them trying to squeeze that extra revenue from this deal.

What we don’t yet know is if El Al books people in a fare class where they can earn full miles on AA and if El Al will allow people to switch the dates on their flights by a day or 2, so stay tuned for that info to come in as El Al starts rebooking people starting this week.

And of course people can refund their flights as well until 08/31.

Gotta love some of the spin on this though, via JTA,

“Although a review of this occurence has not been finalized, a decision was made to accommodate El Al passengers who purchased these low fares because we value our reputation of offering excellent customer service,” said Danny Saadon, El Al’s vice president of North America, in a statement released Thursday. “Hopefully we have provided an opportunity to many first timers to visit Israel as well as reconnect family and friends.”

Sure, as if the DoT regulation (see final page, question 8 ) had nothing to do with the decision 😉
But good PR is always worthwhile as well, and El Al got a ton of it.

“The glitch was the result of a third party subcontracted by El Al to post the Israeli airline’s winter promotional fares online. According to El Al, the discounted airfares were the result of the subcontractor failing to add the fuel surcharge to the total price.”

Which is exactly what I originally speculated had happened. Hopefully that contractor will have to cover any losses.

In an interview Thursday with JTA, Saadon took credit for pitching the idea to honor the fares to El Al President and CEO Elyezer Shkedy, but said the decision for the direct flight add-on was Shkedy’s.

“If we’re honoring passengers’ tickets, let’s also offer them an opportunity to fly with El Al, and make life easier for families that might lose baggage and lose a connection,” Saadon said in explaining the company’s rationale behind the add-on offer.

That spin is priceless, just priceless. We’re only thinking of pleasing our customers, nothing to do with the win-win situation for our bottom line. 😀

“Thanks for your patience,” the tweet read. “Details/decisions re incorrect fares that were briefly sold on Monday are not finalized.”

The wavering was in contrast to two separate Twitter posts on Monday afternoon that pledged to honor the tickets. Saadon in the JTA interview acknowledged that the company’s posts via Twitter on Monday may have been a contributing factor in the decision to honor the tickets.

“Once we said it, we may as well follow our word,” Saadon said.

The decision to honor was “mainly to save face with El Al,” he said. “We’re talking about thousands of passengers. Most are customers anyways, they just took advantage of a ticket that was available at a low price. We’d rather keep them flying with El Al without disappointing them.”

Indeed a lesson for any company, never ever say anything before coming to an absolute and final decision or you may find your hand to be quite forced.

To minimize exposure to similar glitches in the future, Saadon said that El Al will review fares before they are posted online and maintain a buffer of two hours before the process is finalized.

Shucks!
Hope other airlines don’t follow that lead…

I’m very pleased with the decision we made,” he said. “Our customers are very important to us and we want them to fly El Al.”

Agreed. When all is said and done I do give props to El Al for honoring the tickets sold without too much of a fuss about it.

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43 Responses to “Some Final Thoughts On The El Al Fare Glitch”

  1. Zvi Says:
    1

    Do you think if you pay for the upgrade you’ll get a lower class seat, not giving you full miles?
    And what about upgrading to business using points? Is there a way to do it with eithor elal or as points?

    ReplyReply
  2. ND Says:
    2

    Send this post to united so they can learn from elal

    ReplyReply
  3. Moshe Says:
    3

    I pray that the next glitch is with a goyishe airline…

    ReplyReply
  4. Ben Says:
    4

    Moshe, Amen! How about a goyishe airline that pays codeshare to El Al.

    ReplyReply
  5. Nathan K F BA GOLD CARD Says:
    5

    EL AL handled this brilliantly !!! Looking and smelling much better then United Airlines who cancelled all those 4 miles award tickets issued to/from/via Hong kong, also because of a computer glitch for a few hours over the July 4th weekend. Bravo El Al !

    ReplyReply
  6. yeshiva Says:
    6

    Dan
    Will these fares be earning full mileage? Or are they “deep discounted fares” earning only 50%?

    ReplyReply
  7. mendy Says:
    7

    Wonder if this will keep el al flight full so they will only offer full fare seat for the winter
    Or maybe they will ad flight

    ReplyReply
  8. Ebbs Says:
    8

    the coolest thing is that on ddf someone posted the upgrade to nonstop idea before elal did it

    ReplyReply
  9. Shmuel Says:
    9

    Dan, whatever happened with the DOT filling on the United Hong kong
    Glitch?

    ReplyReply
  10. Gary Says:
    10

    @Shmuel:

    I don’t think Dan’s clearance at the DOT allows him to divulge this info.

    ReplyReply
  11. Jacob Says:
    11

    Is it possible that this was publicity stunt by El Al? Think about it, a ton of free press, thousands of seats booked in two hours, free cancellations. I think possible conspiracy, perhaps Dan in on it? Hmmmm?

    ReplyReply
  12. Knaper_Chuchem Says:
    12

    Comparing the United glitch to this scenario is senseless!

    ElAl had a coach seat (which usually never fills up) sold for their agreed price minus the taxes, versus United had a Business (which hardly flies empty) seat sold for nothing.

    ReplyReply
  13. David M Says:
    13

    1) I am amazed that anyone would send you an angry email because THEY missed out on this. If I were you Dan – I would block those people’s email and/or delete without reading in the future.

    2) Did El Al do a good job here yes. Did United ALSO do a good job by NOT giving people seats for 4 FFM absolutely. 4 FFM to asia and you did not get it – and then you think you deserve to be compensated – no way. Just my opinion.

    ReplyReply
  14. DZ the Telzer Says:
    14

    Can you upgrade to direct flight for only one of the ways. Also do you have to pay for the upgrade for an infant that is sitting on a lap.

    ReplyReply
  15. DZ the Telzer Says:
    15

    Dan, I’m not sure how it was done, I don’t have a twitter account and someone set up my cell phone to get texts of the deals. Maybe you can post for people how to do that. So that they will receive instantly the text deals.

    ReplyReply
  16. me Says:
    16

    Great article! And yes, elal came out brilliant here!

    ReplyReply
  17. danfan!!! Says:
    17

    El Al, nor any other airline, could never have bought this type of advertisement! In this way alone they are brilliant!

    ReplyReply
  18. churnbabychurn Says:
    18

    With all due respect, you understand very little about the business side of running an airline,your assumption that this is a win win as they get to fill up seats is clearly wrong. If you were right every airline would occasionally run $300 fair promos, its a win win right?
    Its due to the dansdeals crowd’s hashkofa that all big businesses are scamming us big time and we must do everything in our power to fight back. I love this crusade and participate but facts are that most airlines are barely eeking out a profit, just like the rest of us.

    ReplyReply
  19. Shua Says:
    19

    Maybe now we can sue united for not honoring the tickets to hong kong and show them el ALS tickets were honored. We should really make a class action suit. Anyone in?

    ReplyReply
  20. DZ Telzer Says:
    20

    @churnbabychurn:
    They don’t want to offer such cheep flights since people wont buy tegular flights they will wait for the sale, but here it’s a mistake so no one is not going to buy a ticket because maybe there will be another mistake.

    ReplyReply
  21. a dan fan Says:
    21

    hey @dan, can we get a post about upgrading these tickets – what are our options on the different airlines etc.

    Thanks again for this amazing opportunity for me and my family!!

    ReplyReply
  22. Avi Says:
    22

    dan can you provide clear instructions on how to setup text messaging with twitter. I tried to set it up but not sure what I am supposed to do.

    ReplyReply
  23. Srulie Says:
    23

    I subscribed with twitter for alerts but I never got one just checked the settings and everythin seems ok?

    ReplyReply
  24. Srulie Says:
    24

    Ok I figured it out. First you need to turn on mobile tweets with twitter and choose your times to receive then you need to activate mobile tweets specifically for DansDeals

    ReplyReply
  25. David Says:
    25

    Any chance Elal will offer something in return for cancelling? I have 4 tickets for January that i will likely cancel…

    ReplyReply
  26. Anonymous Says:
    26

    I cant figure out how to set up text messages from dans deals on deals. can someone spell it out clearly for someone who is not tech savvy

    ReplyReply
  27. Lokshon Says:
    27

    I Phoned El Al regarding the date change they said they will start offering on this Tuesday.

    ReplyReply
  28. Israel Says:
    28

    @David:
    your money back

    ReplyReply
  29. Anonymous Says:
    29

    Dan (or anyone)
    Will these fares be earning full mileage? Or are they “deep discounted fares” earning only 50%?

    ReplyReply
  30. rosanne skopp Says:
    30

    Dan, it would be nice if you’d just send emails on your flashes. Most of us now have smartphones and why bother with texting? For us who live in both Israel and NJ we’d need our Cellcom and Verizon phones to be getting the tweets which would cost us money when we are not generally using one or the other phones.

    ReplyReply
  31. jj1000 Says:
    31

    @rosanne skopp: there are services that turn tweets into emails. Just Google it.

    ReplyReply
  32. pilot Says:
    32

    @ND: United was a whole different story, correct total of miles was showing, then at check out showed 4 miles, first class tickets that go for $10000+ for 4 miles, not a $1200 revenue ticket for $400, my 2 cents

    ReplyReply
  33. yo Says:
    33

    This is all a way to bring up tourists dollars. government payed off elal no question

    ReplyReply
  34. Doug Says:
    34

    @yo: I don’t think so. Otherwise, why wouldn’t all tickets to Israel be $300 all the time?

    ReplyReply
  35. Doug Says:
    35

    “Hopefully that contractor will have to cover any losses.”

    @ Dan – every IT company I have ever worked with, including some large contractors, clearly specifies in its contract that it will correct mistakes, but specifically does NOT accept liability for incidental business damages. I assume this is also true in Israel. Otherwise, liability for a simple coding error could potentially run in the billions of dollars, and the insurance to cover this would be prohibitive.

    ReplyReply
  36. Anonymous Says:
    36

    please sign me on i would love to be on your list

    ReplyReply
  37. tamir29 Says:
    37

    So a friend of works at ELAL and he confirms that they are opening a new booking class (“W”) for rebookings to a direct flight.
    W booking class is not in use for a while and this is why they are using it for this specific situation. It’s allready showing on the distribution system and they will start rebookings this tuesday.
    The good news for AA flyers is that AA’s chart actually still lists W and at 100% base miles and elite miles no less….so I think this just another incentive to switch to a direct flight.

    ReplyReply
  38. tamir29 Says:
    38

    link to AA’S earning miles with ELAL:

    https://www.aa.com/i18n/AAdvantage/earnMiles/travel/airlines/elAl.jsp

    ReplyReply
  39. Derek Says:
    39

    If can transfer to another name, would be interested in purchasing any such ticket! thanks

    ReplyReply
  40. ari Says:
    40

    @churnbabychurn:

    with your pen name i guess your ommiting credit card companies from your list of “barely eeking out a profit like the rest of us”
    truth to be told el-al did see an increase in profits which is unheard of in the travel industry
    see links below seems el-al is doing very nicly this is according to their own listed earnings

    Company’s financial results for the first quarter of 2012. | … http://www.elal.co.il/elal/english/aboutelal/elal_news_en_items/en_elal_news_28051...
    May 28, 2012 … Elyezer Shkedy, El Al President & CEO, today presented the … During the period under review gross profits grew by about 85% to $40.4 million …
    El Al: Company revenues for 2011 grew by 4%, | EL AL … http://www.elal.co.il/elal/english/aboutelal/elal_news_en_items/en_elal_new...
    Mar 22, 2012 … El Al: Company revenues for 2011 grew by 4%, To $2.4 billion. Losses for 2011 totaled $49.4 million, compared to a profit of about $57 million …

    ReplyReply
  41. ari Says:
    41

    with fuel surchages adding 590.00 to each roundtrip ticket and prices rising steadily 5% annually theyre doing very well which is actually unheard of in the travel industry
    my heart bleeds borsht for el-al for their loss which (some one else will pay for in any case)its about time the customers got back a little for all the support theyve given to el-al over the years w/o getting anything in return
    1)el-als service is next to nill,
    2)their matmid reward program as noted on dans deals is the worst program out their.
    3)try getting a seat or try booking an upgrade is never available!
    4)points expire after 3 years
    this is actually the first time i can recall where the flying customer finally got something substantial from el-al
    kol hakovod to all the people who grabbed the oppurtunity enjoy your trip!

    ReplyReply
  42. Nathan K F BA GOLD CARD Says:
    42

    I ALREADY SENT 3 E-MAILS TO EL AL AND HAVE YET TO HEAR BACK FM THEM, IS THERE A SPECIAL NUMBER TO CALL THEM ON ?

    ReplyReply
  43. abe Says:
    43

    elal claims now “it was extended till on till 9/15/12

    ReplyReply

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