Experience Report: Completing A Return Flight Date Change On The Cathay Pacific Vietnam Error Fare (Booked via Orbitz)

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As we have received a lot of feedback regarding our Cathay Pacific First Class Error Fare articles I’d like to report back about my personal experience of changing the date of the return flight as many readers inquired about.

Several people reported problems getting either Cathay Pacific or their OTA to change the date on this ticket which per the ticket rules is explicitly allowed.

Cathay Pacific decided to honor this error fare in full which was amazing considering Business Class from Vietnam to North America was available at $600 and First Class for $995-1100 depending on the destination.

I booked one of these tickets in the early morning hours of January 1st after getting back from a NYE party in Shanghai and really didn’t put much thought into the dates, booking a 10 day round trip flight to Vancouver in May.

Later on I added a cruise to compliment this booking leaving me with only 2 days which was a bit short so I decided to try and push the date of my return flight a little bit, staying a week longer.

Even though the initial ticket rules allow an “anytime change” (even before the flight) for a $100 change fee it was probably a bit unrealistic to expect Cathay to honor this ticket as fully flexible. Some people were apparently able to change it short after booking but eventually that option has been shut down.

After that other reports came in that both the travel agents and Cathay Pacific would claim there wasn’t any availability even after the first segments had been flown. Apparently Cathay would apply a Vietnam point of sale availability block to the bookings which the customer can’t check (or disprove) easily.

I braced for the worst as I called in to Orbitz for the change. Short before I tried one more time to do an online change but was only given the same results as before: Downgrading to Business Class (I) and paying ~ $2000 fare difference.

To my surprise not only did someone answer quickly when calling them up but the agent was quite competent. After explaining the situation and mentioning the first segments had already been flown (they can verify this anyway as the electronic coupons of the tickets show as used) the agent was able to offer me a selection of different flights as per my requested dates.

No fare difference applied, only the $100 change fee which so far had been authorized but not charged to my Amex card yet.

To make sure this wasn’t a “one off” I asked if he sees availability on other dates as well which he confirmed. Note, this was for a departure ex San Francisco.

Just to be crystal clear as this came up time and time again: You **won’t** be able to change the date of your ticket prior to the departure of your first flights ex Vietnam.

Conclusion

It appears that date changes have indeed been made possible now by Cathay Pacific and the resistance to touch these tickets for purposes of changes has been broken.

All I can recommend it to not rely on what the website offers you. Call the customer service number of your OTA or Cathay Pacific if booked through them and request them to check the dates. I didn’t encounter any issues at all with this. For changes to active tickets that have already started one can also contact the ticketing airline directly, it’s not absolutely necessary to go through the OTA.

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