Jakarta: Eagle-eyed travellers snapped up heavily discounted tickets in the fanciest cabins on All Nippon Airways after a currency conversion blunder, with one paying just $890 for flights in first class all the way from Jakarta to the Caribbean via Tokyo and New York, and back again.
That 14,500-kilometer (9,000-mile) journey would typically cost nearly 20 times as much in first class on ANA. Others grabbed tickets in business class for just a few hundred dollars instead of the usual $10,000 or so, with news of the glitch spreading on social media platforms.
ANA Holdings said Wednesday the mistake stemmed from an error on its Vietnam website, which listed an erroneous currency conversion. It didn’t state how many people had secured discount tickets and said it was “investigating the cause of the bug and the size of its damage.”
An ANA spokesperson initially said the airline would honor the tickets for those who bought them, but the carrier said later that a final decision hadn’t been made, adding that one would be reached before the end of the month. The discounted tickets will still be valid for the people who fly before that decision is made.
Most of the tickets were for travel from Indonesia’s capital Jakarta to Japan and then to New York and back again to various Southeast Asia destinations, including Singapore and Bali, according to several people who spoke with Bloomberg News.
Herman Yip, who runs a travel website, said he bagged the round-trip first-class ticket from Jakarta to Aruba via Tokyo and New York.
Johnny Wong, who works in the airline industry, said he booked a return ticket on business class from Jakarta to Honolulu via Tokyo’s Narita Airport for 13 million dong ($550).
“I never thought I’d catch such a deal,” Wong said. The 29-year-old said he felt under pressure to enter his details as fast as he could, racing against time before ANA realized its error. The fare is now $8,200.
It isn’t the first time an airline has inadvertently sold premium seats at a steep discount.
Cathay Pacific Airways accidentally sold first- and business-class tickets from Vietnam to the US in 2019 for as little as $675 when the normal price would have been as much as $16,000. It honored those fares.