FlightCentre’s “Fly Free Guarantee” is for real.
3 PM UPDATE: FlightCentre, in response to my customer service inquiry about their Lowest Airfare Guarantee (a.k.a. the Fly Free Guarantee), is reimbursing our fares. Thanks so much to the TF Readers and Friends who encouraged FlightCentre to do the right thing and thanks FlightCentre for doing right by your Customers.
If you’ve got an air fare quote, I highly encourage you to contact Flight Centre! They offer great customer service and a guarantee that means something. Their number for quotes is 1-877-967-5302.
I will do an update on Friday to thank everybody and announce my small token of gratitude but, in the mean time, thanks to all the consumer advocates who brought the concern to FlightCentre’s attention:
- Ellen Roseman, Reporter for The Toronto Star and Moneyville
- Robb Engen of Boomer and Echo
- Nelson of Financial Uproar
- Vanessa of Vanessa’s Money
- Steve of GroceryAlerts.ca
- Sean O’Shea of Global News’ Consumer SOS
- Jack Braithwaite
- All of the Commenters on today’s post
My Partner and I wanted to fly from Toronto to Edmonton for Christmas. On Tuesday, November 13th, I came across the lowest fare on Travelocity.ca. The Air Canada flight would cost $1348.04 for both of us, with a stopover in Regina on the way out and a stop in Saskatoon on the way back.
I called up FlightCentre because they offer a great guarantee: they will beat any airfare quote or you fly free! It’d be money-stupid to ignore a price-beat promise on a purchase as big as airline tickets.
The customer service rep (who I need to say is an awesome guy who has tried his best for us throughout) found the exact same tickets (same flight/date/times/class) in his FlightCentre system. But the price it quoted him was hundreds of dollars higher. So he checked my alleged price of $1348.04 on Travelocity.ca. Sure enough the exact same publicly-available tickets were much cheaper on Travelocity. He couldn’t personally authorize the price beat guarantee so I waited on the phone while he escalated it.
The manager to whom it was escalated refused to beat the fare. This, despite the fact that the fare met all of the strenuous requirements of the fly free guarantee (it was publicly available, FlightCentre could book the same flight at that time; it met the requirements even down to the fact that Travelocity dynamically prices rather than wholesales Air Canada tickets!). Matt took my number so he could escalate the issue. I asked if there was anybody I needed to call to get the fly free guarantee applied and he said no, because he would inquire on my behalf. At this point on Tuesday night, I was scared. I knew prices would go up and the Travelocity.ca deal would disappear. I also knew, however, that FlightCentre had refused to price beat a fare that met its criteria and I was therefore entitled to a free flight.
On November 14th, Matt called me back to update me. Apparently Air Canada had been offering lower fares to “high quality” Canadian travel websites like Travelocity.ca. Flight Centre didn’t enjoy the same discount in their pricing system. FlightCentre admits that they should have booked the flight on November 13th and price beat it on the evening I called, but that they had refused to do so. But Flight Centre couldn’t even book the same flight anymore because it had filled up.
Later in the day, Matt called again. He was able to offer me a different flight to Edmonton at the same price of $1348.04. Again, instead of giving me a free flight for a fare they had refused to match, FlightCentre offered to now match the fare. Prices had already gone up the day after FlightCentre’s refusal to match. The cheapest inclusive ticket on Saturday (using Travelocity’s system that is apparently superior to FlightCentre’s) was $783.63, or $1567.26 for two people. I’m on a fixed income because of parental leave. We couldn’t afford to wait, lose the tickets, and pay hundreds of dollars more. So we bought the tickets.
Added: As of Monday, November 19th, Flight Centre has notified me that they are reimbursing the tickets to make the flight free.
My complaint is that the FlightCentre Fly Free Guarantee is fake because the company is not willing to fulfill it even when the criteria are met. The travel consultant had never seen my situation — I totally believe that it is exceedingly rare. But whether it’s one in ten thousand or one in a million, it met ALL of Flight Centre’s requirements and they should have honoured their fly free guarantee. If Flight Centre corrects their error by reimbursing my tickets then I will gladly update this story. FlightCentre should stop promoting their non-sense promise if it’s a lie. It’s unethical and misleading. They enjoy the increased business and goodwill that results from such a guarantee. And yet they apparently won’t fulfill their promise in my rare, applicable situation. If you doubt my claim that this fake “fly free guarantee” is being used to build unjustified goodwill, see how the promise features prominently in their Google Ads campaigns: I continue to try to get FlightCentre to honour its commitment:
- I have an
unansweredanswered written inquiry (submitted at the behest of the company’s Twitter account, @FlightCentreCA) sitting with their customer service.
- Canada’s greatest consumer advocate, Ellen Roseman, has inquired on my behalf in an effort to seek a resolution
but hasn’t heard backand FlightCentre has responded to my concerns. I will fully participate in any coverage she sees fit (which is now an obvious good news story!). I’d greatly appreciate your support. Please help by contacting FlightCentre and telling them you no longer believe in their guarantee. Here’s their contact information:
- Twitter: @FlightCentreCA
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 1-877-967-5302
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FlightCentreCA
Regarding Twitter, I’ve set this page’s SEO title as “I think the @FlightCentreCA Fly Free Guarantee is Fake” so you should be able to Tweet at FlightCentre simply by tweeting this post.
Thanks for all your support. Please don’t bug Flight Centre any more about this as they’ve rectified the situation thoroughly. If you have another five minutes and you’re willing, please thank them for making it right and restoring the promise of their guarantee.