Jakarta: One quick-witted opportunist bagged $250,000-worth of airline tickets for just $17,000 after fares on an All Nippon Airways website were listed ultra cheaply due to a currency conversion error.
Herman Yip, 32, snapped up 25 tickets for a small fraction of their usual cost, including a round-trip in first class all the way from Jakarta to Aruba, via Tokyo and New York, for only $890. Some business-class flights cost as little as $300, he told Bloomberg News.
ANA Holdings said Wednesday that airfares were listed incorrectly on its Vietnam website due to an erroneous currency conversion. The Japanese carrier hasn’t confirmed if the cut-price tickets will remain valid, saying it would make a decision by the end of April on how to address the issue.
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Yip said the low prices remained on the ANA website for at least 12 hours.
“I guess ANA hasn’t made clear if they’re going to honor the tickets or not, because the impact from the incident seems so huge as the bug lasted for so long,” said Yip, who runs a travel website from Hong Kong. “I know 20 people who knew about the incident, and that of course just multiplies the impact.”
Even though he didn’t have time to consult family and friends, Yip went ahead and bought tickets for them anyway.
“I didn’t even bother to ask them whether they were able to make it or not, as I needed to book really quickly,” he said.
Upon discovering that he could also change his flight for free after the order was confirmed, Yip rebooked his Jakarta-Aruba odyssey to instead begin in Bangkok, which is closer than the Indonesian capital to his home in Hong Kong.
Cathay Pacific Airways had a similar mishap to ANA in 2019, selling seats in premium cabins for hundreds of dollars instead of thousands. The Hong Kong carrier honored the tickets.
Yip’s tips on cheap fares
To take advantage of these rare moments, Yip recommends reacting quickly and being flexible because there may not be a wide choice of dates or destinations. Lots of other people are also likely to be pouncing on the opportunity, limiting options. Essentially, book first and assess later.
“If you see something that’s probably a 10th of the original price, just book,” he said. “It’s very likely you’ll able to change or cancel, because the airline will always want to you cancel.”