Alitalia has shifted position on their most recent mistake: some tickets will actually be honored. The carrier initially indicated they would cancel all flights issued after a JPY 25,000 discount for flights departing from Japan was found to be available on all tickets worldwide. The company indicated that the execution on the coupon code was a "malfunction" and that the code working on flights other than those from Japan was erroneous. But they also have agreed to let some customers fly on the mistakenly issued tickets. From their Facebook page:
However, since Alitalia intends to protect clients who have committed a, albeit minimal,amount with their credit card, we confirm the validity of the transactions requested on the Japanese site with a value greater than 1 euro cent. Those clients will soon receive an e-mail with their ticket.
In other words, customers who booked anything more than JPY 25,000 and then applied the coupon will actually get to fly while those on cheaper flights will not. In some ways this makes no sense. Why would you choose to honor only the more expensive fares? In many other ways, however, it makes a lot of sense.
For starters, when there is actually an exchange of money rather than a zero-dollar transaction the contract rules change a bit. On top of that, it is quite likely that the number of zero-fare tickets issued was far higher than the number of discounted fares issued such that the net impact to the carrier financially might actually be much more reasonable this way.
In the end I’d say that the decision is a reasonable one. Customers willing to pay something for their flights get to fly and the company doesn’t get completely screwed for the mistake.