Cathay Pacific accidentally sold $16,000 first and business class flights for $675, and it’s honoring the discount fares

A Cathay Pacific Airways Airbus A350-900.

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A Cathay Pacific Airways Airbus A350-900.
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REUTERS / Tim Chong

  • Cathay Pacific briefly sold business and first class tickets at a fraction of their retail price because of a ticketing error.
  • The Hong Kong-based airline tweeted on Wednesday that it would honor the discount tickets for those that had been lucky enough to purchase them.
  • According to travel bloggers, punters were able to book business and first class fares from Vietnam to New York for $675, rather than the standard $16,000.
  • South China Morning Post reports that several thousand tickets were sold during the error, meaning it could have cost the airline millions of dollars.

Cathay Pacific Airways just gave potentially thousands of travelers a very auspicious start to 2019 indeed.

The Hong Kong-based airline admitted on Wednesday it had made a ticketing error on certain fares, but that it would be honoring those customers who had managed to bag a very special discount.

For a brief window, punters were able to book business and first class flights on Cathay Pacific from Vietnam to New York for $675, rather than the standard $16,000.

“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,” the airline tweeted on Wednesday.

“Hope this will make your 2019 ‘special’ too! #promisemadepromisekept #lessonlearnt.”

Certain travel bloggers were quick to jump on the ticketing error, like Gary Leff of View from the Wing, who said: “Oh my goodness this is an amazing fare.

“You can fly from Vietnam – the cheapest fares originate in Da Nang, but other cities work as well – to Cathay Pacific’s US gateways starting at $675.”

Leff advised waiting before booking any further transport or accommodation, since the airline could get “seller’s remorse” and cancel the tickets.

First class onboard Cathay Pacific.

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First class onboard Cathay Pacific.
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Cathay Pacific

South China Morning Post spoke to 11 fliers who had, collectively, managed to bag 18 business and first class tickets for a total of $27,700 (HK$216,925). The newspaper estimated that at the current retail price, the airline should have sold them for a total of $685,800 (HK$5.4 million).

SCMP added that several thousand flights between Vietnam and North America were believed to have been sold during the ticketing mistake, which was put down to human error. If true, the mistake would have cost the airline millions of dollars.

Cathay Pacific did not immediately respond to INSIDER regarding how many tickets were sold at the discounted rate.

The lucky buyers of the heavily-discounted tickets will get to enjoy Cathay Pacific’s much-lauded business or first class experience, which includes a private check-in area, airport lounges, in-flight amenity kits, champagne, and caviar.

Read more: What it’s like to fly first class on Cathay Pacific

It’s been a difficult year for the airline who, in September last year, was ridiculed for spelling its name wrong on the side of one of its planes. It missed an “f” from “Pacific,” spelling out: “Cathay Paciic.”

In October last year, it also revealed a major data breach affecting 9.4 million passengers that leaked passport numbers, credit card numbers, and email addresses.