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Reader Anders H. spotted this item in China Daily, Air China glitch offers free tickets:
Air China’s website booking system suffered a series of technical problems on the evening of July 10 resulting in business class seats being sold for just the price of the tax.
A passenger surnamed Sun was one who took advantage:
Round trip tickets from Beijing to Sydney sold for 2,000 yuan ($313.48) plus tax. And the round trip tickets from Beijing to Bangkok were 1,132 yuan plus tax. Sun booked two tickets from Beijing to Bangkok at 11:50 pm on July 10.
The article cites a lawyer who said Air China can legally cancel or change the tickets, but the airline has decided to honor them:
On July 12, Air China announced on its micro blog it will cover the losses caused by the booking system error and passengers could travel for the price listed.
The message read: “We repaired the bugs as soon as we find out the problem. The company decided to bear the relevant losses as we think our integrity is the most important thing.”
So there you have it, mileage junkies, move to China! Of course they would still complain that it took more than 24 hours for Air China to honor the tickets…
(note: this case differs primarily from the recent United mistake fare in that United’s was on award tickets in which the correct price was displayed throughout the booking process, even on the final confirmation screen in which the error showed only for the final total. Whether that difference is substantive is a subject of fierce debate.)
(bonus note: I lived in China from 2002-2010 and highly recommend it, though not for seeking mistake fares. As noted in my previous article on United’s award ticket mistake, the propensity of Chinese customer to game everything en masse generally means for much less friendly consumer policies, despite the occasional outlier case like this. A mistake fare might be honored, but try returning a product to nearly any retail establishment.)