El Al Airlines announced this past week that it has decided to honor the approximately 5,000 airfare tickets that were mistakenly sold on August 6 via the Internet for unusually low prices.
The Israeli airline also said that it is offering a “more convenient option” to those customers who bought the cut-rate tickets.
According to El Al management, since the unintended cheap tickets were for a trip to Israel with a stopover in Europe in both directions, it is offering those passengers the option to travel nonstop roundtrip to Israel from New York (leaving either JFK or Newark Airport) for an additional cost of $75 each way. The airline is also offering the “discount” ticket purchasers a full refund without any sort of penalty if they are interested in canceling their tickets. El Al asked all customers wishing to choose either of the two options to e-mail the airline by August 31 at firstname.lastname@example.org, and an EL AL representative would respond to the specific request.
“Although a review of this occurrence has not been finalized, a decision was made to accommodate EL AL passengers who purchased these low fares because we value our reputation of offering excellent customer service,” stated EL AL Vice President and General Manager Danny Saadon. “Hopefully, we have provided an opportunity to many first-timers to visit Israel as well as reconnect family and friends.”
The technical glitch enabled customers to nab a highly extraordinary bargain, as the normal cost of tickets to Israel is at times as high as $1600. According to El Al, a subcontractor that handles its winter promotional fares was responsible for the eyebrow-raising error, which caused a minimum of 5,000 people to buy flights to Israel from a number of American cities, including New York, Boston and Chicago, at the unheard-of low fare. “An outside company posted incorrect fares on travel websites,” El Al originally announced. In a subsequent statement, the airline explained, “On a daily basis, any published airfare consists of the basic fare, a fuel surcharge and taxes. In this situation, the fuel surcharge was omitted.”
James Lapin, who works as a grant manager at Columbia University, explained to the New York Daily News that he quickly took advantage of the unusual offer, given the fact that air fares to Israel are usually beyond his affordability. “The last time I was there was right after I got married more than 10 years ago,” he noted. “My three kids have never been and I had been bemoaning the fact that we weren’t able to go. I was actually thinking of saving up just to send my wife with one of them.”