A number of previously elated holiday-goers have been left feeling cheated out of their cheap tickets after British Airways decided to cancel their transactions.
Over 2,000 passengers departing from Britain and heading for either Dubai or Tel Aviv were able to avail of tickets that were listed at less than half of the price they should have been. The tickets were listed at the discounted price for several hours before the mistake was noticed by British Airways, who promptly removed corrected the cost. However, would-be passengers were not notified that their tickets would not be honored until a week after the incident.
One passenger destined for Dubai had originally paid £218 ($289) a ticket, but was later faced with a choice of paying over £565 ($749) per ticket, or not flying. Another, also heading to Dubai, first paid £289 ($383), before being asked to pay £800 ($1,061) a seat
"They've bought these tickets in good faith at a believable price - it's not as though the tickets cost £5, which would clearly have been a glitch. Many have budgeted accordingly and booked accommodation and now face big fees to go ahead with their holiday”, Guy Anker, deputy editor of MoneySavingExpert.com, told The National.
British Airways have said that the mistaken pricing was a result of human error, and they were under no obligation to honor the sales. They did, however, refund all passengers in full, and offer a £100 voucher as compensation, which they also say they were not obliged to do. However, the gratuity has not been well-received.
One of the affected customers, Sukhi Bansi, said that the cancellation is not acceptable, as she had spent £2,500 on non-refundable accommodation between the time that she bought the tickets, and the time that they were cancelled. Another passenger, Adele Watson, described how she could have spent an extra £50 to fly on an alternative airline, but will be left out-of-pocket as that deal is no longer available.
Mistakes such as this are not uncommon in the airline industry, but airlines will take the hit and honor the fare about 60% of the time. It is likely that in the week between the time the tickets were sold and cancelled, British Airways calculated their losses and weighed them up against the negative publicity such a cancellation would generate, and ultimately decided that it would be better to take the hit to their reputation, rather than their finances.