"There's no sticker on it, I guess that means it's free."
Oh the hilarity!
Actually, if there isn't a sticker it doesn't mean it's free, and if an airline posts a certain price on their website they don't necessarily have to honor it if there's been a mistake.
Cathay Pacific, a huge airline known for it's international travel, had a once-in-a-lifetime Christmas deal for passengers looking to travel from New York City to Vietnam. You could get round-trip airfare, first class, for only $675. The normal cost? $16,000!
There was only one problem with the deal, it was never supposed to be posted.
Mistake pricing can sometimes be a big win for a consumer. Many states and other countries have laws that benefit a shopper if they discover an item was mistakenly priced. Airlines have different rules. In 2018, a glitch caused British Airways to offer flights to Tel Aviv and Dubai for only £1. The year before, Air New Zealand made a mistake resulting in vastly discounted business fares.
Both those times, the airlines cancelled the mistake tickets.
So there was to guarantee that the hundreds of passengers who booked with Cathay Pacific's insane rate would actually get what they paid for.
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 airline tweeted out their response and put any questions to rest. They admitted their mistake and called their discount a "surprise 'special'" but wished everyone a happy new year.
"Hope this will make your 2019 'special' too!" they tweeted.
It may have been a costly mistake, but their reaction to it is winning over a lot of people.
Two rarities: An airline honoring mistakenly discounted tickets AND a company owning up to its mistake. Well done! #travel— Joseph Knitt (@JPKnitt) January 2, 2019
They're now an airline that has a rare claim to fame: positive headlines.
Word traveled around the world of their generous gesture, but some were still suspicious.
Was this a mistake or actually a marketing stunt to gather good will. After all the exact same thing happened to Hong Kong airlines a few months back https://t.co/yQsQWQ1TYl— Dirk Singer (@dirktherabbit) January 2, 2019
Cathay Pacific responded to these accusations too, saying that no airline would "ever want that to happen to them." They went on to say that they "made a mistake, and it's no fault of the customer to have put their trust in us."
I regret that I didn't see the tickets when they were available, but if I do ever have the chance to fly Cathay Pacific, I'll definitely give them a go.