Delta Air Lines Boxing Day glitch sells fares too cheap

Delta Air Lines Inc. said it will honour tickets sold at incorrect prices on Boxing Day on its website and through other booking channels after customers snapped up bargains like a round trip to Hawaii for $US6.90 ($A7.76).

The wrong prices were available for about a two-hour period beginning at about 10am New York time, said Trebor Banstetter, a spokesman for the Atlanta-based airline. The carrier doesn't know the number of tickets sold at the incorrect prices or have an estimate of the financial impact, Banstetter said.

Customers began to swap stories of the low fares, such as round-trip flights across the country for $US50, on Twitter. Eric Gesimondo, who graduates in January from Elon University in North Carolina, booked a round-trip ticket from Boston to Hawaii in March that cost about $US68 after $US61 of taxes.

"I'm so broke; this is a miracle," Gesimondo, 21, who has never visited Hawaii, said. "It's a little graduation gift."

Price glitches in airfares have become common enough that some savvy customers actually look for them to happen. The website lists five things you need to know to find mistaken airfares. The word of fare deals spreads quickly online as friends, family and colleagues tip each other off on the bargains, boosting the normal traffic for airfare purchases.

Lucky ones

United Airlines has had at least four public computer pricing disruptions since March 2012. In September United passengers were allowed to use tickets they got for free because of faulty reservations data.

For Delta, the third-largest airline in the US, it's the first time it's had a website pricing error in "recent years," Banstetter said. Delta is investigating what happened, he said.

Gesimondo was told by a friend of his brother about the cheap fares. He will meet his brother, who also bought a round- trip ticket to Hawaii from San Francisco for about $US60 with taxes, and they'll stay at a friend's house there.

"It's going to be a $US70 trip for eight nights in Hawaii," Gesimondo said. "I guess I was one of the lucky ones."

Not everyone wins. Amanda Maher of Boston said she put in a purchase order for two round-trip tickets to Nashville, Tennessee, from Boston for a total of $US104 through and got a confirmation code. When she called later to check on the tickets, said the transaction wasn't valid.