Dhaka: Qatar Airways accidentally provided a flight refund of USD 19.6 million approx to an Australian Frequent Flyer forum moderator for a Business Class flight from Jakarta to London which was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, Jessica Tam was expecting only approximately USD 2,000 to be reimbursed following a request for a refund for the cancelled flight.
Tam reported on the case and said, “This may seem like a bizarre amount of money to refund when the ticket only cost around USD 2,800. But the amount wasn’t quite a coincidence. As the first flight on this ticket departed from Indonesia, the fare was originally paid in Indonesian Rupiah. The total airfare, converted into Indonesian Rupiah, was IDR 28,179,000.”
This could have been a costly mistake for the airline. It seems that somewhere during the refund process, the refund was mistakenly quoted in Australian Dollars for the amount in Indonesian Rupiah.
Nevertheless, the mistake was noticed by either the bank or the airline, and was corrected the following day.
“Qatar Airways is aware of a story regarding the overpayment of a refund. The airline processed the refund correctly and was not involved in the transaction between the bank and the passenger. We are glad to learn that the matter was swiftly corrected,” said the airline in a statement.
Currency conversion errors are a frequent cause of mistake or error fares, and refund problems like the one listed above. Error fares can result in ridiculously cheap travel. There are even guidelines available that include looking for mistake fares.
Nonetheless, human error is the primary cause. Errors in currency conversion, typos, airfares filed for the wrong class of travel, and fuel surcharges being erroneously removed can result in errors that lead to cheap flights or refund mistakes.
These errors are usually rectified quickly. However, most of the time, the airlines honour mistake fares. However, unluckily for Jessica Tam, the error by Qatar Airways was too big to ignore.
Qatar Airways is offering refunds or flight credits for its customers until December 2020. On the other hand, many airlines are not. As flights continue to be cancelled due to COVID-19, many customers are struggling with airlines that refuse to give refunds.
Some airlines have issued refunds, but many have instead decided to issue flight vouchers that can be used as credit for travel in the future. Of those issuing refunds, the process is taking some time.