Savvy travel bargain hunters were rewarded with an amazing New Year’s Day deal thanks to a mistake made by Hong Kong-based airline, Cathay Pacific.
Business-class fares during August 2019 on flights from Vietnam to New York were mistakenly sold for roughly $675 USD. For comparison, these same flights run closer to $16,000 for the adjacent months of July and September, nearly equating to a staggering 95% discount!
Travel bloggers and Twitter users began reporting the sale on December 31st, before Cathay Pacific withdrew the erroneous fares. There has been no indication as to the number of sale fares that were purchased, but the airline has already stated that it will honor the first-class and business-class tickets.
The company even made light of the mistake on Twitter:
Happy 2019 all, and to those who bought our good - VERY good surprise ‘special’ on New Year’s Day, yes - we made a mistake but we look forward to welcoming you on board with your ticket issued. Hope this will make your 2019 ‘special’ too!— Cathay Pacific (@cathaypacific) January 2, 2019
The mistake in fares caps off what was a tough year for Cathay Pacific. The airline has faced stark competition from other low-cost Chinese carriers, posting its first back-to-back annual loss since the company was founded in 1946. The company was also hit with a security breach that accessed the personal information of roughly 9.4 million passengers.
However, if anything is to be taken away from this latest gaffe, it is that Cathay Pacific is making the right move in honoring the purchased “special fare” tickets.
The occurrence of mistaken fares is not all that uncommon within the airline industry. In 2015, the Department of Transportation established a policy that allowed airlines to cancel “mistaken fares,” as long as consumers were reimbursed for the ticket, as well as any out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the purchased ticket. It is ultimately left up to the airline to decide what fares are considered a “mistake” and choosing whether or not to honor it.
Cathay Pacific played it right. Honoring the special tickets will probably result in a loss of profits, but cancelling the tickets entirely would have likely led to consumer backlash. Cathay Pacific is trying to do right by its customers, which will hopefully pay off in the long run and get the airline back on track.