Some of the big airlines have adopted
low-fare guarantees so that bargain-hunters will look no further
for cheap seats than the airlines Web site. We picked up Americans
for a little light reading and soon found ourselves in
uncomfortably familiar territory.
proudly proclaims, We guarantee that youll find the lowest fares
available. Heres how it works. The consumer books and pays for a
flight on AA.com.
If the consumer finds a fare that is more than $5 lower on another
Web site, American will refund the difference and issue a $50
Thats the big
In the real world
of fine print, the consumer must find this better fare before the
end of the day, and it has to be for the exact same flight, cabin,
class of service and fare rule as the original booking. The
claimant must notify AA.com by midnight and provide copies of the
competing sites itinerary/confirmation and fare rules.
If a consumer books on
AA.com and later finds a lower fare on AA.com, the guarantee doesnt
apply. Nor does it apply to wholesaler or consolidator fares,
opaque fares or fares reduced by promotional discounts.
guarantee only applies to fares on Web sites operated by an
accredited distributor of AA Airfare (whatever that is), and it
doesnt apply to lower fares that cannot be purchased on AA.com, a
loophole that, the more you think about it, sort of ends the whole
Its apparent that
this guarantee was written by the same folks who write other
airline customer-service rules, policies and procedures.
These guys are very
good at what they do.
The British venture known as EasyCruise, a
corporate cousin of budget airline EasyJet, is taking bookings for
a new a la carte cruise product in the Mediterranean beginning this
spring. We observed in this space a year ago that this could be an
experiment worth watching, and we think the cruise industry will be
The idea is to
attract independent travelers by cruising back and forth between
St. Tropez and Portofino, stopping at various ports in between.
Passengers can arrange to get on or off where they choose, so long
as they book at least two nights. Meals are
In addition to
spawning a new entry-level product, EasyCruise could make some
Riviera destinations seem a little less out of reach for
budget-minded travelers, and that could be a good thing,
But the ship has a
mere 170 berths and it will be marketed primarily to Europeans, so
the impact on the U.S. market will be approximately zero -- for