Mistake Fares and the Law: An Academic Publication

Everyone loves to get a great deal, but when is a deal a mistake? How do mistake fares occur? What is the law regarding mistake fares in Canada and the United States? This paper, written by me, just published by the McGill University Annals of Air and Space Law (Volume XL, 2015), titled “Mistake Fares in Canada and the United States” is now available for public viewing on SSRN for free.

It provides an overview of what a mistake fare is, how they occur, how they are regulated in Canada and the United States, and provides policy recommendations for regulators. I think (of course I’m bias!) that it’s a great read, and provides a solid foundation for understanding the issue, and is a guide for what to do when you benefit from a mistake fare.

The following is the formal abstract:

Like any business, airlines make mistakes in their pricing and structuring of fares, potentially costing them millions of dollars. Both Canadian and American air transportation regulators have developed regulatory frameworks to deal with airline mistake fares. Each country has taken a different approach. Canada has adopted the common-law rule of unilateral mistake, whereas the United States has created broad and complex rules governing airline mistake fares. This paper provides an overview on the history of airline mistake fares in both countries, and how they are currently regulated. Further, it provides recommendations for regulators on how to create a regulatory framework for future airline mistake fares.

One Comment

  1. Great paper…I think the notification period should be 24 hours from booking confirmation/credit card being charged (not from e-ticketing), and only outside 7 days of travel. Mirror the consumer policy for purchasing/cancelling tickets.

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