An airline that accidentally priced a luxury flight from Vietnam to New York City at an egregious $15,000 discount has decided to honor the tickets purchased at the fare.
Cathay Pacific Airlines is doing the noble thing and owning up to the mistake, which saw tickets for the business class journey priced at $675 rather than its usual $16,000 price. According to The Guardian, the Hong Kong–based airline declined to comment when asked how many passengers claimed the grossly underpriced tickets on New Year’s Day.
Still, the airline made light of the situation on Twitter:
It isn’t necessarily unheard of for airlines to unload otherwise exorbitant tickets at extremely low prices, and there’s a variety of contributing factors that could ultimately cause mistake fares to occur. Scott’s Cheap Flights, a website dedicated to tracking down cheap airfare, notes that mistake fares are usually the product of “technology issues,” “communication problems,” “foreign currencies,” or “route specific fees.”
Cathay Pacific is attributing the snafu to a “ticketing error” and hasn’t elaborated further, though it’s possible the glitch was caused by something as simple as an airline employee typing in the wrong number.
The tickets were initially spotted by Gary Leff, a travel blogger and airline expert with a penchant for noticing cheap deals and publicizing them. In his post, Leff stressed the urgency of nabbing the tickets quickly before the airline scrubbed them:
“Oh my goodness this is an amazing fare. You can fly from Southeast Asia (Vietnam) to New York in Cathay Pacific business class from $675 roundtrip. Even if you book an award ticket to Asia and use this as a one way ticket to get back (and throw away the return) you come out way way ahead.”
While Cathay Pacific opted to honor the fares despite the inevitability of losing money on the flights, it isn’t standard practice for airlines to let mistake fares slide. The Department of Transportation ruled in 2015 that airlines aren’t legally obligated to honor mistake fares, although rescinding the seemingly marvelous deals will almost certainly spark a customer uproar.
If you’re interested in cashing in the next time a mistake fare drops from the sky, there’s a bunch of websites that are there to help.
Source: The Guardian