American Airlines has to honour US$20 tickets to China offered due to glitch

After cancelling the travel plans of about 600 passengers who bought nearly-free tickets from the US to China due to a computer glitch, American Airlines will be required to honour the sale.

American Airlines jet forced to land in Heathrow after it developed a crack in its windscreen.

American Airlines will honour tickets sold for nothing or $20 from US to China.  Image by Aero Icarus / CC BY-SA 2.0

On 17 March, an error on the company’s website led to tickets being sold for $20 or for free from certain US cities to Shanghai and Beijing, reports USA Today.

While the issue only occurred for 5 hours, news of the glitch was widely shared on social media. About 600 people purchased tickets right away and about 600 put tickets on a 24-hour hold. American Airlines honoured the tickets that were bought immediately, but cancelled the tickets of anyone holding a ticket, leading to many complaints to the US Department of Transportation (DOT).

An American Airlines  flight on approach in St Maarten appears to almost touch the beach

An American Airlines flight on approach in St Maarten appears to almost touch the beach. Image by Aero Icarus / CC BY-SA 2.0

American Airlines stated that in a similar period, only about 100 tickets would be sold, and argued to the DOT that consumers were buying the tickets based on social media posts and not in good faith that the deal was intentional, reports Bloomberg.

However, the DOT will now require that American give up a free economy-class ticket to customers, or a business-class ticket discounted by $1,500, to those who had their tickets cancelled, but they will need to go within the next year, according to Bloomberg.

But before you start scouring the internet for airline glitches, earlier this year a similar situation had a completely different ending.

United Airlines had a glitch on its Danish website, offering first-class flights for $51, and the DOT decided airlines can cancel flights booked at accidental rates if they can prove that the fare was filed by mistake.

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