United Airlines has cancelled the reservations of thousands of customers who took advantage of a pricing glitch to save thousands of pounds on first class tickets.
The glitch, first spotted by money saving site DansDeals, caused first and business class tickets sold through the airline’s Danish website to be drastically mispriced. For instance, a round trip from Heathrow to New York for two, which costs £6118.92 on the British site, was sold for just 974 Danish Krone, less than £100.
It took United a couple of hours to respond to the glitch, firstly by removing the ability to access the Danish website and then by fixing the pricing mishap. But that was enough time for “several thousand” people to take advantage of the implausibly good deal, according to the company, which cancelled the bookings overnight.
In a statement, United said: “United is voiding the bookings of several thousand individuals who were attempting to take advantage of an error a third-party software provider made when it applied an incorrect currency exchange rate, despite United having properly filed its fares.
“Most of these bookings were for travel originating in the United Kingdom, and the level of bookings made with Danish Krone as the local currency was significantly higher than normal during the limited period that customers made these bookings.”
Given the price of first class tickets, even if the number of customers taking advantage of the glitch was at the low end of the “several thousand” number, the company’s potential losses were still easily in the tens of millions of dollars.
In an email to affected customers, United took a slightly more conciliatory tone, but still confirmed the cancellations: “You purchased a ticket through the Danish version of united.com during the time when the prices were incorrect. As a result, we are not able to honor your ticket at the price that you paid. We have voided your reservation and will not process your payment.”
In a previous pricing glitch, United decided to honour tickets accidentally sold for free. In September 2013, the airline listed tickets with a price of $0, and was forced to shut its booking system entirely to stop haemorrhaging tickets. While those tickets remained valid, the company did not reveal how many it had actually given away.
This article was written by Alex Hern, for theguardian.com on Thursday 12th February 2015 10.02 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010