El Al Error Allows Customers To Book Heavily Discounted Fares; Airline Decides To Honor Tickets

Earlier this week, a glitch in the El Al ticketing system allowed around 5,000 U.S. travelers to snap up heavily discounted airfares to Israel. And after a couple days of mulling over its options, the airline has just decided to honor those tickets.

According to reports, during a brief window on Monday, El Al tickets that normally go from between $1,000 to $1,600 were suddenly and inexplicably available for less than $400 each.

Not surprisingly, lots of people snapped up the tickets before the error was fixed. Surely, some of them had to have known the low-low airfares might be too good to be true but figured it was worth a shot.

For those travelers, the bet paid off this morning when El Al announced it would honor the tickets. Additionally, the airline says that the discounted tickets — which currently require a stopover in Europe heading in both directions — could be changed to non-stop from JFK International or Newark Liberty Airport for an up-charge of $75.

And if, for reasons that evade us at the moment, someone actually wants to cancel their discounted ticket (maybe you were expecting the airline wouldn’t honor the fare?), El Al is offering free refunds without penalty.

“Although a review of this occurrence has not been finalized, a decision was made to accommodate EL AL passengers who purchased these low fares because we value our reputation of offering excellent customer service,” explained EL AL Vice President/General Manager Danny Saadon in a statement. “Hopefully, we have provided an opportunity to many first timers to visit Israel as well as reconnect family and friends.”

Thanks to Dov for the tip!

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  1. Miffles says:

    Although most people buying the tickets probably realized that the ticket prices were too good to be true, and computer glitches happen that are hard to see coming, it’s a really smart move on EL AL’s part to honor the tickets anyway. That’s some awesome PR for them and goes to show how much they value their customers.

  2. jimigsu says:

    Those money grubbing je…. no…. those evil ba… no… Maybe sometimes a company just gets it right… yes. Its going to cost them money upfront BUT many people will use them or at least look at them now.

  3. Celticlady says:

    Good on you El AL!!

    Saw this story last night and wondered about it.

    Lots of great good will, (yeah at a price but still) I don’t ever see myself going to Israel, but if I did, this kind of thing would make me want to fly El AL

    Are you listening large companies!?!?!?

    • dale says:

      I fly ElAl to avoid being blown to bits en route to my destination. The tickets are expensive, but that money buys first-rate security procedures and personnel, pilots with air force training, anti-missile equipment, and an otherwise comfortable flight.

      It is still nice to see them do the right thing here.

      • NeverLetMeDown2 says:

        Yes, because the other carriers that fly to Israel are constantly having their flights drop out of the sky. There’s no meaningful difference in safety (against accident or intentional act) between El Al and other carriers to/from Israel.

        El Al’s extra security just about balances out El Al’s extra appeal as a target.

  4. Blueskylaw says:

    Let’s say that the average ticket would cost $1300 ($1000 + $1600/2=$1300). The loss per ticket would then be $900. Five thousand tickets times nine thousand dollars is $4,500,000. The amount of goodwill and press generated by this decision cannot be bought for this amount of money. Their decision was the correct one.

    • brinkman says:

      And I’ll be surprised if dynamic pricing doesn’t kick in to adjust the fares of all other available seats on any affected flight.

  5. mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

    The only downside I see to such an awesome display of goodwill is that they may be doomed to forever be compared and contrasted with Taco Bell’s display of goodwill to the residents of Bethel, AK.

    Seriously, it is so nice to see the all too rare occurrence of a company getting it right in the long term over worrying about the short-term P/L reports.

  6. colpuck says:

    As opposed to United Airlines who told its customers to take walk when they made a mistake last month.

  7. Howie411 says:

    I flew El AL to Israel about 8 years ago, great airline.

  8. midwesterner says:

    EL AL is a great airline. One thing I really like about them is that instead of pulling Grandmas in wheelchairs out for an extra security check, they use profiling to suss out suspicious characters. They ask a lot of questions during the security check to give them a chance to watch people’s mannerisms and reactions.

    BTW, this is not the EL AL of old where the stewards were rude and surly (they used to have a reputation for this). I have had nothing but excellent service every time I’ve flown with them. Good for them for honoring this deal.

  9. Dryfus Ranon says:

    El Al was caught in a bind. The cheapest and eventual result is what they achieved. No BS lawsuits. No legal fees, etc. Great PR, even though they dont need it.
    My favorite airline to have flown on has been El Al.

  10. Press1forDialTone says:

    Even more evidence that Jewish folk are superior to the rest of us.