This is something that irritates me to no end. When airlines publish fares and in the routing paragraph of the fare there are some fantastic options that would make awesome stopovers and be useful for constructing amazing multi-stop itineraries and then somewhere else in the fare rules they disallow their use.
I’ve seen many examples of this over the years and it always bugs me. I’ll spot an awesome opportunity in the fare routing, hold it in, try to quote it and it doesn’t quote. Then I go through the rules and find a note making it completely useless.
Qatar Airways Colombo to Male
The most recent example of this that’s annoyed me is a Qatar Airways one-way fare from Colombo to Olbia in Sardinia. I wanted to book some flights from Sri Lanka to Italy with a stopover in the Maldives and I needed to use Qatar as I was planning on upgrading some legs using Qcredits. So I had a look at their economy fares from Colombo to see if they might have an option to route via Maldives and it was there!
This is the routing paragraph from the fare:
So, as you can see in the line I’ve circled, it should be possible to fly from Colombo to Male with Sri Lankan Airlines, China Eastern or Qatar. As Qatar don’t actually operate this service but have many codeshares on Sri Lankan flights, I thought I might see some QR flight numbers. I didn’t but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.
So I held in seats on Sri Lankan to Male and Qatar onto Rome via Doha and then Rome to Olbia with Meridiana as per that line in the routing paragraph and tried to quote it. I forced the fare in and got the error that I was breaking a flight application rule so had a look at that paragraph of the rules. What I found was that no Sri Lankan Airlines flights were allowed on the fare and no QR flight numbers operated by Sri Lankan were allowed.
So the only airline that can actually be used on that sector is China Eastern. Unfortunately China Eastern only operate the route 3x a week and only arrive into Male at 8:40pm which meant shuffling around some other arrangements and missing out on a day in the Maldives. This obviously isn’t the end of the world at all and I’m still very grateful for the fare as it was very close to what I was looking for at a reasonable price. My only gripe is why put those flights in the routing paragraph if they can’t be used?
Qantas and British Airways to London via Johannesburg
One that I found particularly ridiculous a while ago was a Qantas fare from Sydney to London. In the routing paragraph, it said it was possible to fly from Sydney to Johannesburg with Qantas and on to London with British Airways. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why it wouldn’t quote so went through the rules and found it had a note that said “Travel via Southern Africa not permitted”. So why put it in the routing then?
I have absolutely zero knowledge of the processes and ins and outs of loading fares and I’m 100% sure these unusable segments aren’t added to fares out of carelessness but I just don’t get it.
Finnair to Europe via Rio de Janeiro
There are some Finnair fares from Australia to Europe via the Americas that show a routing that goes Sydney to Santiago to Rio de Janeiro with LATAM, then up to New York and on to Europe with Finnair. Obviously Finnair don’t operate flights between Rio and New York so it can’t be used. But. In the exact same fare another line in the routing allows Sydney to Santiago with LATAM and from there to New York with American Airlines, which can be used. When you consider that Finnair don’t operate any services into South America, why is Rio de Janeiro in the routing at all? There is no feasible way to visit Brazil with that fare, so why is it there??
British Airways multi-stop fares
Sometimes I see options that can’t exactly be used but make a bit more sense as cities are just bunched together. As an example, there are some British Airways fares that allow multiple stops in Asia and just have all the Asian cities bunched together in a line in the routing paragraph and you can just use the parts that make sense. For example SYD to SIN or MNL or HKG or KUL or LGK with Qantas or Cathay or Malaysian. In this example, I can figure out that I can use Qantas or Cathay to Hong Kong so I won’t look for that flight with Malaysian. I can also figure out that no airline has a direct service to Langkawi so I’ll just ignore it. I have no issues when there are cities just bunched in together and some of them aren’t usable. I just get frustrated when there’s a flight in the routing paragraph that actually exists, makes perfect sense and should be fine but then it’s disallowed somewhere else in the rules.
Anyway, that’s my rant!