Any time a country or region imposes any sort of visa stipulation - even if it’s a waiver - the travel industry sighs a collective groan, knowing the obstacles and headaches to come.
HONG KONG — Talk about a holiday sale.
Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific accidentally promoted select business-class tickets at economy prices on its website earlier this week. The pricing faux-pas included premium return fares from Vietnam to Canada and the U.S. starting as low as US$675 in August, a fraction of what it would usually cost to fly the long-haul journey in first class.
The unbelievably discounted rates were first announced by travel blogger Gary Leff on his blog https://viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com/ on Dec. 31. He wrote at the time:
“Since we don’t know for certain how Cathay will feel about such a deep discount airfare sale, whether they might get seller’s remorse, I’d wait a few days after buying additional travel or making additional non-refundable plans around the fare.”
Hurry: Cathay Pacific Business Class Back to Several US Cities From $675 https://t.co/ldy3wXh01z
— gary leff (@garyleff) December 31, 2018
By Jan. 2, all fares appeared to return to their original price, with business-class roundtrip tickets from Da Nang to New York priced at approximately $16,000 for travel in July and September.
Although the accidental fares were posted for less than 48 hours, many travellers still took advantage and booked flights. But after the airline noticed its blunder, passengers were left wondering if Cathay would honour the fares.
As Leff wrote on his website, “The US Department of Transportation no longer requires airlines to honor mistake fares. All they have to do is cover non-refundable costs travelers incur in reliance on a purchased fare if they decide to cancel. And even that could take a fight.”
But Cathay Pacific put all fears to rest by stating on its Twitter and Facebook pages Wednesday that it would still welcome passengers that bought tickets during its unintentional ‘sale’.
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
“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!” the airline wrote on Twitter, ending the tweet with the hashtags #promisemadepromisekept and #lessonlearnt.
So there you have it. For all those who’ll be flying Business Class for just a few bucks, kick back, enjoy and happy new year!