Last updated: 12:00 PM ET, Fri March 06 2015

Typo Briefly Leads to $72 Fare for $3,400 Flight on South African Airways

Airlines & Airports | South African Airways | Rich Thomaselli | March 06, 2015

Typo Briefly Leads to $72 Fare for $3,400 Flight on South African Airways

There are typos, and then there are typos.

It’s cute when “Let’s eat, grandma!” becomes “Let’s eat grandma!”

It’s not cute when a $72 published airfare turns out to be a misprint and you’re not getting the deal you thought.

For the second time in a month, this happened to consumers – more than 600 of them – who booked a business-class fare on South African Airways that was published at $72 for a round-trip between Johannesburg and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

The airline said Thursday the online offer was incorrect and mistakenly published. A regular ticket between the two cities in business class costs around $3,400; the airline said it had notified all 640 customers who booked the $72 fare that it was incorrect, their booking was cancelled and their money was being returned.

"We appreciate the fact that customers would under normal circumstances take advantage of bargains and good travel bargains," airline spokesman Tlali Tlali told The Associated Press. He noted, however, that "underpricing would open us up to legal challenges" in an industry where competition is regulated.

A similar problem occurred last month for United Airlines. A third-party software glitch in online booking had suddenly made flights, including trans-Atlantic flights, ridiculously cheap. $70. $51. Even $44 in one instance. Several thousand people bought tickets until United realized the error, fixed the glitch – and then sent customers who purchased flights a note saying the bookings would not be honored.

"You purchased a ticket through the Danish version of during the time when the prices were incorrect,” United said in an email to customers. “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 … If you would like to book your travel at the correct price, please visit”

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