Some lucky web surfers were able to snag extremely inexpensive U.S.-to-Israel airline tickets, thanks to an error on El Al's website.
The glitch allowed people to buy tickets from the site for as low as $350. As news of the great deal sped through text messages and social media sites, people began snapping up the opportunity to travel to the Holy Land for at least a third of the usual cost. The tickets were for flights during the coming winter.
An as-yet unknown number of people managed to buy tickets before the airline realized what was happening and fixed the malfunction. There are also various reports of people buying the cut-rate tickets on travel sites including Expedia, Fly.com, Orbitz and others.
Many customers were pleased to discover that the low fare was not only being applied to direct flights, but also to flights with connections from U.S. cities. One American reported on Facebook that he had booked round-trip tickets from his city for only $500.
"I hope El Al doesn't cancel the tickets," he wrote on his Facebook page.
Only after hundreds of tickets had been ordered did someone at the airline question the sudden flood of reservations and discover the error. But while it was easy to revise the price listed on the website, it will be more difficult to retract the tickets that were sold.
A source at the airline told Haaretz that the company was looking into the legal aspects of mistaken advertising and only then would it decide how to handle its predicament.
El Al's Israel office said in a statement: "We are talking about an error. The issue is being checked."
Reports from the United States, however, indicated that El Al employees there had already told customers that the airline would have to honor the tickets.
About 8.5 percent of El Al tickets, yielding $120 million a year, are ordered through the airline's website.
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