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Cathay mistakenly offered airline tickets worth $16,000 for $675 — but it's honoring them

Cathay mistakenly offered airline tickets worth $16,000 for $675 — but it's honoring them
The Cathay Pacific ticket counter at Hong Kong's international airport in 2018. (Anthony Wallace / AFP/Getty Images)

Cathay Pacific Airways made a mistake selling first- and business-class tickets at a steep discount. Now, the lucky few who made the bookings will travel in style after all.

The Hong Kong-based airline said on its Twitter and Facebook pages Wednesday that it would still welcome passengers who bought the business-class tickets from Vietnam to Canada and the U.S. at economy prices earlier this week.

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The online ticketing foul-up meant fares as low as $675 from Da Nang in Vietnam to New York at the front end of the plane — or a small fraction of its original round-trip price of about $16,000.

“We do not want to go back on our promise to our customers,” Cathay said on its Twitter account. “We made a mistake but we look forward to welcoming you on board with your ticket issued.”

While those passengers will be happy, the mistake adds to the embarrassments for the carrier that’s struggling to turn its fortunes around while competition intensifies from Chinese and budget airlines. The pricing gaffe comes on the heels of a sophisticated hack on Cathay’s computer systems last year that exposed the private information of 9.4 million passengers in the world’s biggest airline data breach.

Gary Leff, a travel and loyalty-program blogger on View from the Wing, wrote on Dec. 31 that the Cathay business-class round-trip ticket from Da Nang to New York started at $675 for travel in August. On Wednesday, the same journey cost around $16,000 for July and September, according to the airline’s website. Prices weren’t available for August.

Travel from Hanoi to Vancouver and back in a mix of business and first class could cost less than $1,000, according to a post on One Mile at a Time.

Other airlines have made similar pricing errors. Singapore Airlines in 2014 and Hong Kong Airlines last year honored business-class tickets mistakenly sold at economy prices. The carriers didn’t disclose how many people purchased the cheaper tickets.

Cathay had sold tickets to the U.S. and other destinations from Vietnam in a promotional offer that ended Dec. 31, according to its website. Round-trip business tickets to Los Angeles were priced from $2,940.

Park writes for Bloomberg.

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