United Airlines Glitch: Customers Get Free Tickets By Accident, Airline Honors Them

A United Airlines glitch gave some lucky customers free tickets, and the airline has now said it will let the mistake slide.

The Chicago-based airline said the mistake occurred because of a group of fares were being offered rather from a technical glitch. As a result, customers got away with only paying the $2.50 security fee per leg, meaning their tickets came out to either $5 or $10.

As soon as United Airlines noticed the glitch it halted bookings on its website, leaving service down for a few hours. But even while the site was down, some customers were able to log on and obtain free tickets, Bloomberg News reported.

The word of this mistake spread quickly among savvy shoppers, with some reporting it on Twitter and other taking the news to travel deal blogs.

Even though the airline was within its rights to cancel the tickets, it decided to let the mistake slide and allow the customers fly for free.

“We’ve reviewed the error that occurred yesterday and based on these specific circumstances, we will honor the tickets,” United announced on Twitter on Friday afternoon.

Glitches like this are not unheard of. Last year, El Al accidentally sold round-trip tickets from the United States to Israel for $330, deciding to honor the tickets it had sold.

Not all airline customers have been so lucky when glitches take place. In 2011, Korea Air’s fares to the island nation of Palau were listed as $485 for round-trip tickets, but the company decided not to honor the tickets. Instead it refunded the payments and issued the buyers a $200 credit toward future travel.

It’s not clear how many tickets were sold before the United Airlines glitch was discovered.