-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. :D
“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.
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.