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Article
Mistakes, Airfares, and Consumers: Restoring the Department of Transportation's Role in Regulating Unfair Trade Practices
Quinnipiac Law Review (2015)
  • Terence Lau, University of Dayton
Abstract
This Article traces the problem of mistake airfares and the federal government’s response to airlines that cancel tickets for erroneous fares. Part I of the Article explores airline pricing generally, and argues that airline tickets are a unique form of commodity good, one where there is no consumer expectation of a reasonable price. The dynamic nature of airline yield management means that prices for the exact same seat on an airplane can range dramatically on a variety of circumstances and factors that are beyond the knowledge, control or comprehension of the ordinary consumer. The Article investigates several well-known examples of mistake airfare pricing, and the Department of Transportation’s regulations on airfare pricing. In Part II, the Article analyzes the DOT’s regulations in light of the common law of mistake in contracts, and concludes that those regulations are well-grounded in traditional contract law. Part III of the Article explores the DOT’s newly evolving thinking on mistake fares, including the DOT’s proposal to revise regulation on those fares. The Article argues that DOT should not move away from its pro-consumer stand that has served consumers well for nearly four years. Finally, in Part IV, the Article makes some common-sense suggestions for how DOT can approach the problem of mistake airfares in a way that strikes a proper balance between consumers and airlines.
Publication Date
July 8, 2015
Citation Information
Terence Lau. "Mistakes, Airfares, and Consumers: Restoring the Department of Transportation's Role in Regulating Unfair Trade Practices" Quinnipiac Law Review Vol. 34 (2015) p. 372 - 407
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/terence_lau/16/