Airline Mistake Offers $0 Tickets, Will Honor If ‘Appropriate’

airline mistake
JamesZ_/Flickr

It was an airline mistake and the number of tickets sold is unknown, but a glitch on the United Airlines booking site offered some really good deals yesterday. Only the automatic airport fees and other surcharges added to flights by airports around the country were included, not the price of the flight. The flash sale-like offerings were caused due to an error loading fares into the United computer system.

This is not the first time this has happened. A similar mistake happened in May 2002 when a fare sale accidentally appeared as a $5 round-trip ticket for about 45 minutes. In 2008, United accidentally stopped charging a fuel surcharge that was as much as $130. In that case, the airline honored the price of tickets sold without the surcharge.

But what about those unbelievably low fares? Will United honor the obviously incorrect pricing?
“As always, we will do what is appropriate,” United Continental Holdings Inc. spokeswoman Megan McCarthy told the Huffiington Post.

Travel deals abound for the holidays: Go for that dream vacation

The downward slide of the economy is creating an upswing of excellent opportunities for less expensive travel. Because people are holding off on making their holiday plans, the travel industry is cutting prices to attract customers. That’s true whether you are into luxury travel or the budget version.

That’s the buzz as reported in this article from The New York Times. Reading the article is like a trip to the travel candy story.

Want a ski vacation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming? Other places in the Colorado Rockies? There’s a deal. How about a luxury beach vacation in Bermuda? To St. Lucia? Perhaps Las Vegas entices you. Or Miami. What about Aruba, Mexico or the Cayman Islands? The article outlines details about each.

Sure, you have to have some money in order to plop down dough for a plane ticket and a hotel room in the first place, but bargains range from free nights, and are along the spectrum of several dollars to 30% off. One popular reduced rate offer is that if you stay in a hotel on the actual holiday, the holiday is free. That means if you’re in the hotel for Christmas Day, Ho! Ho! Ho!, Santa has brought you a present.

The hitch is you have to bookend your free night with nights you are paying. Still, bring out the spiked eggnog and give yourself a toast to your good fortune on at least one day of the year. Many deals also apply for Thanksgiving.

The article points out one adage that I’ve also found to be true. Don’t assume a trip is beyond your means unless you check first and check often. If you can wiggle around dates and desires, a vacation could happen.

A couple years ago, we flew to Ft Lauderdale, Florida for much less than it would have cost to drive there, about $160 per person RT from Columbus. I just happened to check airfares on a whim about this time of year and was pleasantly surprised. Our hotel room, complete with an efficiency kitchen, was $75 per night. That flight costs about $100 more today, but I bet the room rate still holds. Ft. Lauderdale does not hit tourist season until after the holidays. If a bargain could happen for us, it could happen for you.