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BA on Google Flights - false advertising by one or both?

austin
Level Contributor
190 posts
49 reviews
BA on Google Flights - false advertising by one or both?

I just had a weird experience and it left me feeling like there was something fishy going on. I found a super great deal on Google Flights from Houston to Rome last week. Then it was gone every day I checked so I figured it was a misprint or special sale that was gone. Lo and behold it showed up again today so wanting to jump on it, I selected the flights and then Google Flights said to call BA at a 1-800 number. Immediately upon getting a reservationist, I was told that the price would likely not be the same as what I saw on Google Flights and indeed it was not - it was double what I had seen. She said that maybe the price was no longer available and I told her I just refreshed the search and was seeing the same low price. She talked about how you can't book on Google Flights which is true, but every other time I've found a price on GF and gone to the website to book, it's been the same. Why should calling BA mean the price is double?

I got kind of mad and said that it seems like someone is engaging in deceptive practices, feeding GF wrong info, feels like a bait and switch from either GF, BA or both, etc. I asked to talk to someone in customer escalations and after much back and forth was put through. The woman looked up the flights and amazingly found the same deeply cheap price I had seen originally on GF. I'm happy that I got the cheap fares (although the baggage fees are steep - oh well, still a great deal) but it left me wondering what had occurred. BA can't just blame GF for this, can they? Again, every other flight I've seen on GF and all other BA flights I've seen on Expedia, TA, Kayak, etc. is roughly the same as what I can find on the airline's website.

What gives? Is this a class action lawsuit waiting to happen? :) :) Kidding, but I did feel taken advantage of until I got the price I saw, which I wouldn't have received had I not thrown out terms like false advertising. I normally don't do this but was taken aback by the first BA person basically telling me before she even searched it that I wouldn't be getting the price I saw on GF...

13 replies to this topic
UK
Level Contributor
2,877 posts
15 reviews
1. Re: BA on Google Flights - false advertising by one or both?

Sounds like the first person you spoke with didn’t know what they were doing and the second person did. This is not uncommon in the world of airline call centres, so much so that it has it’s own acronym: HUCA - Hang Up (and) Call Again.

If you find a price on Google Flights and it is all flights from the same airline then even if it says “call X to book” just go to the airline website and check for yourself. In fact often the Click to Book link from Google to BA errors out.

In short don’t mistake incompetence for malicious intent - BA’s systems are pretty flakey and some of their customer service staff are too.

austin
Level Contributor
190 posts
49 reviews
2. Re: BA on Google Flights - false advertising by one or both?

Thanks - I did check the BA website and the price was not what was reflected on GF. So, I called the number as instructed thinking it was perhaps a special telephone fare (and, BA gets $25 per person for call in bookings, as disclosed on the GF site). It seemed like the woman I first got knew exactly what she was doing though, was very familar with GF prices, and was very reluctant to put me through to escalations. But, I do get your HUCA point!

London, United...
Destination Expert
for London
Level Contributor
59,324 posts
12 reviews
3. Re: BA on Google Flights - false advertising by one or both?

'What gives? Is this a class action lawsuit waiting to happen?' See below, and no.

What you'd found at GF was very likely a booking on BA metal but made through a codeshare partner, and at a guess I'd say Iberia. It's not uncommon for these flights to be cheaper, but I've never had any success trying to recreate them at the BA website.

BA's current website is beyond flaky (they need to do something about it sharpish), and making any booking there is a bit of a challenge. When you find fares like these and have to book them through the call centre, let the agent know you'd like to buy the ticket, can't complete the booking elsewhere and ask (politely) if they would waive the telephone booking fee for your booking.

austin
Level Contributor
190 posts
49 reviews
4. Re: BA on Google Flights - false advertising by one or both?

What is BA metal? The flights I saw on GF (and ended up getting after escalating to the BA agent) were BA and AA

Nashville, TN
Level Contributor
6,936 posts
10 reviews
5. Re: BA on Google Flights - false advertising by one or both?

BA metal would be a flight operated by BA. AA metal would be one operated by AA. As this sounds like a partial BA/AA codeshare the fare may have been available on the AA site and not the BA site. Had that happen when we booked our trip from BNA to BRU/return BUD to BNA. Flights in WT+ were cheaper booked through the AA site than they would have been if booked directly with BA.

austin
Level Contributor
190 posts
49 reviews
6. Re: BA on Google Flights - false advertising by one or both?

Interesting. The super discounted fare was not available on AA - I checked. The only way I got the advertised fare was by calling and complaining to BA :)

Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
26,273 posts
38 reviews
7. Re: BA on Google Flights - false advertising by one or both?

Based on the additional info provided in post 4, I'm guessing that while the price you saw on GF linked to BA's website (which is indeed seriously cronky) were correct, I don't think the first BA agent you spoke to was wrong, and nor was (necessarily) BA's direct website. It seems you've been sold a ticket now by BA but which is on an AA aircraft (metal just means the plane in this example). The second BA agent, understanding your explanation better, simply recreated what you did and saw the price and booked it for you.

What you have now revealed suggests that this is a route using an AA flight is in a fare category that BA do not sell on their own planes, or has now sold out, hence the cheap deal does not include luggage, for which you've had to pay extra for. BA and AA sell each others flights as well as sharing (obviously!) code share flights, but their aircraft configurations, fare categories and other aspects are not identical.

I don't think any fraud was intended. I don't see any grounds for a lawsuit. I do see room for improvement of BA's website, and I am more than used to the fact that owing to levels perhaps of trainig and experience, what 1 agent is able to advise or arrange can be utterly different from a different one sitting in the same location.

SWT

Dublin, Ireland
Destination Expert
for Austria
Level Contributor
26,466 posts
80 reviews
8. Re: BA on Google Flights - false advertising by one or both?

i see that the old "class lawsuit" raises its head again. if you feel that you have a chance of a lawsuit, then take one ! it wont be a "class action" as it is not of national importance, and nobody else is going to help you pay for it.

but yes, you got different advice....that happens. you do not always get put through to the expert at any time. but even that would not result in any form of lawsuit ! (by the way, i know that you are only kidding, but.....)

there is no legal requirement for any company to abide by an advertised price, correct or incorrect.

Edited: 19 October 2018, 10:35
UK
Level Contributor
2,877 posts
15 reviews
9. Re: BA on Google Flights - false advertising by one or both?

It's often cheaper to buy BA flights as AA codeshares and GF is pretty handy for finding these. You should take note of the flight numbers and if you call up ask them to price those exactly as shown in GF.

10. Re: BA on Google Flights - false advertising by one or both?

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