Re Icelandair gift certificates

For our 50th wedding anniversary in June ’04, my wife and I were each given a $400 gift certificate for Icelandair travel. The gift certificate says that tickets are “to be issued in exchange for any international round trip ticket on Icelandair.” The gift certificate receipts state, “$400 good for air travel on Icelandair to any destination from any of our gateways.”

When we tried to purchase tickets with them on Sept. 23, ’04, we were told that they could not be used for discount offers shown on the Internet. (We had received an Internet message from Icelandair that morning advertising a good price for a round trip to Sweden.) We had to book the flight at a much higher price ($435 each versus $260 each before taxes and handling fees).

When I get or give a gift certificate, I expect the store to honor the full certificate value on sale-price items as well as full-price items. Therefore, I sent a letter to Icelandair asking for a justification for the higher charge.

The reply from Icelandair does not give a justification. It says the gift certificate must be redeemed through their phone line. (As a note, when you go through that voice mail on the way to an operator, you are assured that you will be booked at the lowest cost. This is obviously not true when the lowest price they would offer was higher than the price quoted on the Icelandair Internet site.) I did go through the phone number listed to book the flight.

Later the same day, paying by credit card, our son booked tickets at the discount price online for himself and his wife for the same flights. We would have been better off if our children had simply given us the money instead of buying us gift certificates. I feel that we should receive a reimbursement of the difference ($175 each) between the price he paid and the price we paid.

(I considered buying the tickets via the Internet and using the gift certificates at a later date. The phone operator reminded me that the gift certificates had to be used within one year. Subsequently, I have learned that our state law requires that all gift certificates be valid for seven years.)

Maynard, MA

ITN sent a copy of the above letter to Icelandair (5950 Symphony Woods Rd., Ste. 410, Columbia, MD 21044) and received no reply.

In a follow-up to ITN, Mr. Chapell wrote, “Although I received no additional correspondence from Icelandair, an additional amount of $312 that I was told would be charged to my Visa account was not taken from the account. It appears that the ticket was priced at $293 in order to make a total cost (including taxes and fees) of exactly $400 per ticket, the amount of the gift certificate.

“For the record, when taxes and an extra fee for an overnight stop in Iceland were added to the $260 discount price that my son and daughter-in-law got, their total worked out to $373 each.

“Also, I did find that Icelandair ( sells Holiday Gift Offer vouchers for fixed amounts that are good for flights in specified times of the year. That is fair and insures one of being able to get a flight at a known price.”