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Cathay sells $16,000 premium seats for $675 in ticketing blunder

  • Kyunghee Park

    Bloomberg

  /   Wed, January 2, 2019   /   01:18 pm
Cathay sells $16,000 premium seats for $675 in ticketing blunder Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-367(ER) airliner on the tarmac of Dusseldorf Airport. (Shutterstock/File)

All eyes are on Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. as it decides what to do with the tickets that it appeared to have sold in error at a fraction of their prices.

Asia’s biggest international carrier sold business-class tickets from Vietnam to Canada and the US at economy prices earlier this week, according to bloggers.

Return fares in the premium cabin from Da Nang to New York started at $675 for travel in August, Gary Leff, a travel and loyalty-program blogger on View from the Wing, wrote on Dec. 31. 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.

While Cathay didn’t immediately say whether it would honor the bookings, the mistake adds to the embarrassments for the Hong Kong 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 private information of 9.4 million passengers in the world’s biggest airline data breach.

Cathay is aware of the pricing issue and will provide more details later, a spokeswoman for the carrier said by phone. A business-class return ticket to New York from Vietnam’s Da Nang costs around $16,000 for travel in July and September, according Cathay’s website Wednesday. Ticket prices weren’t available for August on the website.

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

Cathay had sold tickets to the US 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 sold from $2,940.