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First class, at bargain rates

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Turning left on a Cathay Pacific aircraft got considerably cheaper in recent weeks, as its online flight booking systems offered first class tickets at amazingly low prices. The glitch saw first-class tickets between Vietnam and New York sold at the beginning of this month for $675 rather than $16,000; and those from Hong Kong to New York for $1,450 (versus $31,000). Eagle-eyed bloggers alerted travellers to the bargains, pointing out there were also heavily discounted business-class fares too. Cathay’s management quickly responded, admitting to the mistake in a tweet and stating it would honour the purchases. It added that the multi-million Hong Kong dollar mistake was the result of human input error but it claimed a “lesson learnt” after making fixes.

However, as the South China Morning Post pointed out this week, the lesson may not have been learned very thoroughly as the same mistake seems to have been made yet again. This time it was on the route between Lisbon and Hong Kong where a first-class fare normally worth $16,000 was on sale online for $1,512. Once again the airline acknowledged the screw-up and said it would honour the fare: “for the very small number of passengers who have purchased these tickets” it looked forward to welcoming them into the first-class cabin.

Some analysts think Cathay management decided to swallow their losses to demonstrate goodwill after the airline angered customers last year over a data breach. The Hong Kong carrier was embarrassed to admit last October the hack had compromised 9.4 million passengers’ personal information.


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