ABU DHABI // An airline computer turned into Santa Claus for travellers planning a transatlantic trip.
For 20 hours on Christmas Day, tickets for Etihad Airways flights between New York and Abu Dhabi were mistakenly on offer for as little as US$187, less than Dh700. The cheapest tickets usually cost at least four times as much. For connecting flights to destinations such as Johannesburg and Manila, some fares were as low as $277.
Etihad said there had been a computer glitch, but they would honour the massive discounts. They would not say how many cut-price tickets were sold.
Meanwhile jubilant travellers, many from America, are looking forward to a bargain winter break in the UAE.
“This is the first time I’ve received such a wonderful deal on an international ticket. It was truly amazing,” said Laura Lombard, 30, from Washington, who bought an economy ticket from Dulles airport to Abu Dhabi for $320.
Benny Hsu, 37, from Florida, bought $187 return tickets from New York to Abu Dhabi for a short break with his wife, Eleanor Chiang, 34.
“That’s the lowest fare I’ve ever paid for a flight that long. I can’t believe how cheap it is,” he said.
“We will have to fly out of New York City, which we don’t mind at all.
“I have never been to Abu Dhabi and have always wanted to go. We could not turn down that price.
“Most likely we will go to Dubai as well since we are staying a week.”
The cut-price tickets were first offered on price search sites such as TheFlightDeal, Expedia and Kayak.com, and the news quickly spread on social media.
“A system filing issue caused ticket prices for a promotion in the USA to be temporarily listed incorrectly,” Etihad spokeswoman Katie Connell said. “The issue has since been rectified.”