Aer Lingus Accidentally Sells Transatlantic Flights For 5 Euros Each

Aer Lingus is apologizing to some 100 customers to whom it accidentally sold transatlantic tickets for a measly 5 Euros.

The tickets were supposed to cost 1775 Euros. Whoops!

The airline is refusing to honor the tickets, saying:

“It is a genuine mistake, a fundamental mistake on our part. We rectified it as quickly as we could. We have contacted the customers and given them the opportunity to re-book,” he told RTE state radio.

“To sell a business class flight for a fiver… that is a genuine mistake, people are going to know that there is something up.

“It is really a case of ‘if it looks too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true’,” he added.

The Irish Consumers Association is having none of it. A spokesperson told the media:

“The offer was made, it was accepted by Aer Lingus. Consumers booked and paid to bind the contract.

“Realistically I think Aer Lingus is going to have to do something to abide by it (the booking) and to help them,’ he said.

What do you think? Should the airline have to stand by this price?

Airline seeks to cancel ‘accidental’ sale fare [The Age] (Thanks, Mandy!)
(Photo:Cubbie’N Vegas)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Thats depends did the people who bought the tickets call no trade backs upon said purchase?

  2. CRNewsom says:

    If the tickets were supposed to be 1775 Euros and the customers paid 2500, would the airline refund them the price? They can’t have it both ways.

  3. outinthedark says:

    @Deadeyereborn: I loled at work…thanks…!

    And I think they should hold to the price. Their screw up oh well life goes on. Put those 100 people on their flight and take the cut.

  4. dragonfire81 says:

    I think those people deserve their damned tickets, regardless of the amount of the error.

  5. Blinkman says:

    Meh, I’ll side with the company. It wasn’t like the BMW fiasco. It was a legit error. Just remember that someone, somewhere has to pay for selling $5 tickets if people get to fly on them. The same liberal douches that cry on here constantly would also react the same way to “Aer Lingus cuts back incentive plans.”

  6. APFPilot says:

    This happens a lot more than one would think. Check out for more incidents like this. The price is NOT that unreasonable considering another Irish Airline sells tickets for less… I say honor (or in this case honour) it

  7. bonzombiekitty says:

    Legally, I do not think they have to honor that price. Generally you’re not under an obligation to honor sales that were clearly an error. It would be nice if they would, or at least give a nice discount as a sign of good faith, but I do not think there’s any obligation to do so.

    @CRNewsom: Then neither can the customer. Suppose there was an error that made the price higher than it should actually be, and consumers found out about it. They’d be screaming for a discount.

  8. ThomFabian says:

    Is there a reasonable person who thinks it was a simple mistake?

    5 Euros for a transatlantic ticket is clearly not just a sale price…its a mistake.

  9. bonzombiekitty says:

    @APFPilot: Are you referring to Ryan Air? Ryan Air does not do transatlantic flights and is a low cost, no frills airline. It’s a bus with wings. That is not comparable to Aer Lingus.

  10. ThomFabian says:

    Another Irish airline sells transatlantic flights for less than 5 Euros?

  11. hilighter says:

    @CRNewsom: Not exactly the same thing, but when I booked a trip to Bali, I messed up the return date because of the time change (my fault), so changed my ticket and got an $800 refund from American.

  12. mattatwork says:

    I think the company should honor the 5 euro tickets – they sold them, and it would give them great goodwill.

  13. @Blinkman: Consumers should not pay for company error thats final. If the price was advertised and purchased the ticket should be delivered. You cant say “oops that thing you bought was really 100 dollars more expensive give it back or pay the differance.” This could have been handled alot better by the company. They could have spun it into a promotion or made a weekly “5 euro ticket” prize out of the whole thing. Instead they end up looking like asses.

  14. guspaz says:

    @Blinkman: Stop using the word “liberal” like it’s derogatory. It makes you look like a bigot, calling half the population of Canada “douches”.

  15. Amiga_500 says:

    Is this airline owned by Colonel Angus?

  16. csdiego says:

    I think I smell a disgruntled employee on his last day of work somewhere in this.

  17. iMe2 says:

    If they take the tickets back I say they should have to remove the cloverleaf on their planes.

  18. CRNewsom says:

    @hilighter & bonzombiekitty: That’s the point I was trying to make. The company needs to have a policy for the scenario of an egregious error. Whether that policy be that the ticket is void and the passenger is permitted to rebook or the ticket is valid.

    I support honoring the ticket. If you paid extra for a ticket in error, you knew the price you were paying for the ticket. Forcing them to rebook (at normal fare) for this error is a disservice to their loyal customers.

  19. davebg5 says:

    If I was booking a flight online and chose the wrong date or destination “in error” would an airline allow me to re-book without paying a penalty?

    I think not.

  20. pmathews says:


    No, he died and gave it to the last surviving Lingus heir…Conny…

  21. sirwired says:

    I’m with Aer Lingus here. The 5 Euro pricing was clearly a mistake. If they charged 1500, and meant to charge 1700, tough luck, but that isn’t the case here.

    Yeah, if I had booked one of those 5 Euro tickets, I would be bummed, but not up in arms about it.

    As long as Aer Lingus lets them re-book without taking away their advance booking discount, I don’t see anything wrong.


  22. hilighter says:

    @CRNewsom: I was fine with the original price I paid for the ticket, but when I realized (a few months later) that I had booked the wrong return date, the price had evidently changed. I had no idea…they just sent me a check. It paid for a lot of my honeymoon…Bali is really inexpensive.

  23. Juggernaut says:

    How many times on this site do you find the shoe on the other foot? Sears sells someone an installation contract along with a water heater and then doesn’t perform, consumer is stuck! Cable cut off because the guy had to move a truck, consumer is stuck! The value of your house is down because the banks needed lax regulations, consumer is stuck! Gimme them their $5 tickets, damnit

  24. JackAshley says:

    Basically, you paid for a service. The company has decided not to provide the service, and has refunded your money. I don`t see the big deal – had they overcharged you, you`d want your money back, it only makes sense that the reverse be true.

  25. chrisjames says:

    Can the customers charge the airline a $100 rebooking fee for correcting their mistake? If so, then it sounds fair to me. If not, then why the fuck do we have to pay extra when we screw up but not the airlines?!


  26. Geminijinx07 says:

    I think it would have been better PR to honour the tickets, release a Press Release saying “we screwed up, we’re sorry but we’re honouring the 100 tickets already sold” and everything would have been good. Alternatively, they could have said whoops, but we’ll rebook you with a 50% discount on the normal price. Still happy customers.

    Now they’re saddled with bad PR and 100 unhappy customers.

  27. coan_net says:

    If it was over a website, many websites has in fine print that they are not responisble for pricing errors – and in a case like it, it was pretty obvious.

    If it was a different way, like me calling them over the phone and they made the offer and I accepted, but I think they should be held to it.

    If anything, I would hope the airline would at least offer a good discount for the hopefully honest mistake.

  28. dorianh49 says:

    Aer Lingus is not so cunning.

  29. mike says:

    I’ll have to side with the company on this one. Same with gas. When people see that a station set the gas as “$0.039”, they flock to the station and pump. The clerks don’t realize until it’s too late. Most people dumb enough to use a credit card often are arrested for petty theft. (at least around here)

    A mistake is a mistake.

  30. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I am with the company on this one.

    How is this hurting the customers? It sounds like they realized this pretty quickly, and informed the customers. They aren’t FORCED to rebook, they could just NOT fly.

    Granted, there is a case by case basis here…if someone booked a non-refundable hotel room based on the ticket, then perhaps they could be compensated for that.

    But this isn’t really hurting the customers.

  31. tmed says:

    I think it’s lawyer time!

    What is the fine print about Aer Lingus deciding to cancel the contract?

    I prefer to see Aer Lingus live with their error, or settle on a dramatically reduced price. That would be my lawyer’s instructions: get me a good buy-out of the contract.

  32. Well, given the weak dollar, these prices are still way too high for me to go overseas.

  33. Geekybiker says:

    I think people are confused. Generally you are not obligated to honor ads that are pricing errors. However once money changes hands, its a done deal. A signed contract can’t be undone. I guess it comes down to if the airline charged their cards or not.

  34. Blinkman says:

    @Geminijinx07: You’re over-estimating the amount of bad PR that comes about from something as small as this.

  35. azntg says:

    @coan_net: Well said. Agreed.

  36. Scotus says:

    I’m with the company on this one. Partly because having worked retail, I found few things in life more annoying than the “Gotcha!” customers, who would pounce on even the most obvious pricing errors and claim we had a legal obligation to sell it to them at that price (we didn’t), but mostly because stuff like this distracts from real consumer problems.

    So long as there are so many instances of greedy executives, indifferent customer service, and general corporate douchebaggery in the world, it’s hard to get too worked up over someone’s innocent mistake.

  37. Claystil says:

    It’s an issue of legality and I’m pretty sure that as soon as payment changes hands, the contract of sale is official and legally binding.

  38. APFPilot says:

    @bonzombiekitty: @ThomFabian:I know all about FR, but who is to say that a consumer couldn’t have seen this as an attempt to combat MOL’s pricing?

  39. RumorsDaily says:

    Basic contract law says they don’t have to honor it. Basic contract law kind of sucks that way.

  40. RumorsDaily says:
  41. RumorsDaily says:
  42. DeepFriar says:

    Bank error in your favor, collect $50

  43. Claystil says:

    People are deffinately missing the point here, this isn’t a dispute over advertised prices, it’s a contract dispute. Advertisements are typically not contracts, implied or otherwise, unless they’re calculated to deceive.

    The airline did, however, breach the contract they entered when they made the transaction official.

    But sicne the airline made a mistake any sensible person would recognize as a mistake, they might have a case in court. “[under contract law,] A unilateral mistake is where only one party to a contract is mistaken as to the terms or subject-matter. The courts will uphold such a contract unless it was determined that the non-mistaken party was aware of the mistake and tried to take advantage of the mistake.”

  44. bonzombiekitty says:

    @APFPilot: In what way would it be combating low cost no frills, non-transatlantic airlines?

    The two are not comparable and serving entirely different market.

  45. bonzombiekitty says:

    @Claystil: Yes, it is a contract dispute. And generally contracts do not have to be honored if there is clearly a mistake in them, ESPECIALLY if there’s no direct human involvement with one side of the contract i.e. an automated system on a website. There’s no person there to ensure that the contract is correct before closing on it.

  46. bonzombiekitty says:

    @bonzombiekitty: Edit to that. Sorry Claystil, I didn’t read your entire post. My bad.

    We need an edit button.

  47. whatdoyoucare says:

    @pmathews: Am I the only one who got that?! That was the funniest post ever.

  48. cookmefud says:

    they should eat the profit on the 100 tickets.

    are they in that bad a shape that the positive PR on this wouldn’t be worth more than the negative PR to them?

    I mean really, it’s what, a third of the capacity of a full A330 (295 passengers per flight), and yeah it’s a ton of money to lose out on on their part, but it seems to make much better sense to at least offer a half off ticket price for them if not a full fare for 5 euros… they’re making at least 100 less passengers that are known customers less likely to fly them again next time at full fare prices…seems like worse business than just saying “whoops! we screwed up. next time it won’t happen but enjoy your flight!”

  49. digitalgimpus says:

    I’d say give the company the choice:

    – Honor
    – Pay appropriate fine for Switch & Bait

    Seems fair.

  50. cookmefud says:

    wow, I totally missed this post. basically what I’m saying too.

  51. thesuperpet says:

    I’ve used this airline once and I had no problem with them. They are a small airline though and might not be able to eat the cost of thier mistake and I’d hate to see them go under for something like this.

  52. bonzombiekitty says:

    @cookmefud: Yes, well it’s two different questions as we often see.

    Must they, by law, honor the price? No. It was clearly a mistake. Airlines don’t give that deep of a price cut without some sort of other advertisement. Really, who gets a transatlantic flight for less than $10 USD? A reasonable person would know that it was a mistake.

    Should they honor it from a PR/Business perspective? Probably. If I were them I would have done it, and told every newspaper about it.

    But nobody ever said that execs always make the best decisions.

  53. BigBoat says:


    How is this in any way bait and switch? Where is the advertisement used to induce?

    The company could parlay this into good PR, but they are under no obligation to, and I do not hold it against them if they choose not to. Sorry, once again you have not won the lottery. Move on.

  54. VeritasNoir says:

    No harm done. Simple mistake. Though I would love to have bought a ticket for $5 to travel trans-Atlantic, it just isn’t realistic. Maybe a small discount could be given if there was an inconvenience to any client, but this was obviously just a mistake.

  55. Munsoned says:

    If I got one of these fares, I think I’d call my credit card company and close the account right away to try to prevent a reverse-chargeback!

  56. dix99 says:

    Well, if they’ve got the tickets then it’s final & they should fly at the quoted price. If they haven’t got the tickets yet, then the deal has not been completed & can be changed.

  57. Fly Girl says:

    As a travel agent, we see “mistake” fares every so often. Someone loads them into the computer incorrectly and *wham!* $30.00 ticket to Europe!

    As far as I know, and have experienced, if you book and buy a ticket with one of those fares, they are VALID. I’ve even done it for myself.

    I guess the passengers probably booked their tickets through the website, which means that the airline is in control of the tickets… If they had been issued through a travel agent or something, I think the airline would HAVE to honor them.

  58. Claystil says:

    @bonzombiekitty: I’m supposing you read my first comment only. I elaborated to include the same points you made in my second comment.

  59. hi says:

    @guspaz: Don’t bother posting to this person. If you read his other posts he’s an obvious troll.

    Some of his more elagant posts:
    * And what would the companies do without profits?
    * Meh, I’ll side with the company.
    * So many whiners.
    * Here’s the deal- there are no victims in either case.
    * All the chicken littles are writing about sensationalist titles, and I actually have to agree for once. These titles are pretty dishonest from a journalistic standpoint.

  60. VikingP77 says:

    I’m surprised they won’t honor them. In the past I’ve seen airlines like Alaska accidentally load and sell tickets for $17 and they HAD to honor them. To quote the airlines themselves a ticket is a contract…binding…thats their reason for charging penalties to change. On the other hand I would rather the pilots and everyone else get paid and the plane to have enough fuel to cross the ocean so I can see their stance.

  61. Blinkman says:

    @digitalgimpus: Misapplication of laws (bait and switch) is just as bad as corporate fraud.

    Some of the people on here are the most ignorant people to have ever touched a keyboard. They should build communities to go back to homespun economies.

  62. Blinkman says:

    @hi: Nice straw-man.

    Anyway, what would companies do without profits? People expect BoA to take a loss just to subsidize secondary education? That’s laughable.

    And there are no victims in the case of Monster vs Gamespot. Consumers have the right to not purchase their products.

  63. @VikingP77:

    Unilateral mistake = enforceable contract, unless the other party knows of the mistake and take advantage of it. Here, the “consumers” clearly knew this was a mistake on the airline’s part. Hence, the contract is not enforceable.

    This is different from a situation where you misbook a flight and are forced to pay a fee to change or cancel. The airline has no way to know of your mistake prior to entering into that contract with you, so the contract is enforceable, and the airline can charge the fees to change or cancel.

  64. whatdoyoucare says:

    @Dr. Chim Richolds: How did the consumers “clearly know this was a mistake”?

  65. hi says:

    @Blinkman: I prefer ‘strawberry-man’ thank you.

    And I’m sure those people who were ripped off by these companies are completely to blame for trusting a company to be honest with their goods & services.

  66. ShirtNinja says:

    Sorry, this reminds me of the Simpson’s Ep where Bart gets an African Elephant. After Homer realizes the cost of the elephant and giving everybody $5 rides, he goes around and starts asking people for more money after he increases the price to $250 per ride. Milhouse’s dad actually said it best: ‘Get off our property!”

    All they had to do was issue a simple press release to every major news outlet where they have flights to or from: “hey, we screwed up, sorry ’bout that. We’re honoring the 5 Euro tickets but have fixed the problem. We hope that the 100 people who bought 5 Euro tickets enjoy their flight and hopefully they’ll consider flying with us again.”

    Simple and to-the-point.

  67. Anonymous says:

    @chrisjames – They should absolutely pay the customers the $100 (or whatever it is) change charge. Better if they allowed the people to fly at that price though…

    If I was one of those customers being asked to re-book – um, chargeback? The airline gets nailed for additional costs resulting from the chargeback being intiated (well, mere mortal merchants do, who knows what goes on in the rarefied atmosphere of such big business merchant agreements….)

  68. Silversmok3 says:

    If im not mistaken, doesnt every seller have a clause which voids any purchase if the price is in error?

  69. Bruce Bayliss says:

    The Irish Consumers Association knows European law.
    Aer Lingus made a binding offer, a customer entered into a contractual relationship and Aer Lingus confirmed the transaction by accepting payment.
    Pays to be careful….
    (And Aer Lingus might have to forego 17k Euros revenue, but their costs certainly aren’t that high. It won’t break them)

  70. irl_niamh says:

    I’ve just seen the latest news report right now (9.15 pm Irish time) and this is a big story here as you might expect.

    Aer Lingus are now going to honour those prices but only in economy, not in the original business class seats that these bookings were for. Not everyone who booked those flights has accepted this, some people are discussing legal action. The general feeling on the various news and opinion programmes is that Aer Lingus are right to offer to to honour the bookings.

    The latest twist to this story is that some of these bookings were made by airline staff, their families and friends.


  71. @Bruce Bayliss: 170k revenue, big difference.

  72. cookmefud says:

    @Bruce Bayliss: isn’t it more like 170,000 euros?

  73. cookmefud says:
  74. BigElectricCat says:

    These fare misloads happen all the time, but it’s only the really egregious ones that get noticed.

    United has been the victim of a few; when they tried to charge their *intended* price of a Chicago-Paris itinerary to the credit cards of the lucky few who scored them for $29, the customers rightly sicced their credit card companies on the airline.

    In the end, United decided to eat the airfares rather than deal with the legal hassles and bad publicity. But United did advise the $29 pax that their seats would not be eligible for upgrades of any sort, and that they would not receive frequent-flyer miles for the trip.

    Seems like a fair exchange to me.

  75. BigElectricCat says:

    My mistake; apparently SFO-CDG, not ORD-CDG.


  76. EtherealStrife says:

    @Blinkman: So which company are you shilling for?

  77. VikingP77 says:

    @Dr. Chim Richolds: And I say to you that the airlines have stood by these “mistake” tickets in the past. So what if the ticket is $5.00? Haven’t we posted before on this site that if the retailer has a sign up for an item that says $10.00 but its really $20.00 when its rung in that the price on the sign or advertisement trumps that?! Seriously its free speech on here but it seems like certain individuals just want to argue with your post or look “smarter”. @whatdoyoucare: Thank you for your enlightened question back to the good Doc. He doesn’t understand airlines.

  78. VikingP77 says:

    @BigElectricCat: Thank you! Apparently Doc Chim has never heard of this before!

  79. DeltaPurser says:

    Check with your lawyers, but a contract is not valid if one party knows that the other party has made a mistake. I actually have a letter filed away with the legal text for it, but can’t find it right now…

  80. Daniel says:

    I side with both. Mistakes happen. The airway should give them a hefty discount and allow them to keep the tickets. The customers are obviously not going to take this for granted, so I can’t see many angry about paying, say 1000 euros on a 1775 euro flight.


  81. BadStoat says:

    I’m constantly amazed companies fuck up on stuff like this. It’s SO simple: you honor the mistake, make 100 people happy, and advertise the hell out of it. You’ll more than make up for the losses by the number of people who’ll hear about your airline AND be inclined to fly you because you clearly have good customer service.

    So yeah, they should honor the price. Legalese aside, it’s great PR.

  82. krunk4ever says:

    I’ll have to side with the business in this case. Honest price mistakes occur all the time and most online retailers and advertisements have clauses against typographical errors.

    If they’re nice, they can keep the price or offer you a discount off your next flight. If not, just suck it up and acknowledge you knew this might happened when you booked a $5 trans-Atlantic flight.

    Oh, you say there’s another competitor that offers EVEN lower prices. Then why not just go reorder tickets from that other airline. Obviously there’s some reason keeping you from doing that.

    People who bring up the argument if the tickets were overpriced for $3000, would they refund you the difference and my answer would be it should work the same way retailers do.

    If an iPod has an MSRP for $300 and Best Buy accidentally lists it for $500, and assuming you as a consumer was stupid enough to purchase it at $500, if Best Buy does eventually fix the price, you can always get the price match within 30 days. You also have the option of refunding it and purchasing it elsewhere.

    I understand the price match/refund policies of airlines are quite different and depending on what type of ticket you buy, refunds may be laden with fees or not even refundable.

    Then again, if you had opt for a nonrefundable ticket, you must’ve acknowledge there was enough savings from a refundable ticket.

  83. Craig says:

    Not to change the subject, but with a name like “Aer Lingus” shouldn’t these guys be having the M.I.L.F. sale?

  84. thoughtfulofit says:

    I try very hard to view mistakes as opportunities. It’s difficult. I also try very hard to accept the consequences of my mistakes. This is also difficult, though carrying insurance helps.

    If I were Aer Lingus, I like to think I’d use the opportunity to learn about shortcomings in our systems. I would also try very hard to find a way to honor the fare. That’s a lot of money, and airlines are strapped. Perhaps they really can’t do it. But given the number of free flight vouchers handed out for things like overselling, I suspect it’s affordable. I’d at the very least kiss butt and give out lots of free drinks. Though from what I know (and love) about the Irish, that could cost a great deal as well!

  85. digitalgimpus says:

    @BigBoat: They baited with a $5 ticket. Now your in, they will pitch their normal fares.

    It’s really not different than material goods just because it’s a service.

    Once people buy tickets they often book hotels, etc. Some stuff may be hard to cancel… so now people are obligated to fly somehow.

    So most who bought will likely need to buy another ticket to prevent loosing more money. The question is what airline.

  86. Poshua says:

    @davebg5: In all likelihood, they would do what they could to fix your mistake on favorable terms. Once I booked a flight on JetBlue for a Saturday by accident, when I really meant to fly on Sunday. I went to check in online Sunday afternoon and found that I couldn’t. I called JetBlue and of course I couldn’t check in because my flight was really the previous day, and I had missed it. They agreed to honor the Saturday ticket for the Sunday flight, only requiring me to pay the normal $25 change fee. Under the terms of the contract, the Saturday ticket was void because I had no-showed, and they could have made me buy an entirely new ticket.

  87. Parting says:

    As long as the airline will throw in something to compensate (I dunno, maybe a voucher for duty free) , I would forgive.

    It’s way too cheap to be truth.

  88. BrentNewland says:

    What if you were in this situation? Say you were selling your car and you wanted $5000 for it but accidentally listed it at $500; Consumerist readers say you should eat the $4500 and be glad you have good publicity.

  89. Aer Lingus sells tickets for €5 and less (excluding taxes) to lots of European destinations every day, and advertises this fact heavily in every Irish newspaper.

    It’s certainly no stretch to argue that someone thought they might also do the same for a transatlantic route too.

    As RTE are reporting, the best they can hope for is to move them to coach. Under the law in Ireland (and as others have pointed out, most other EU member countries) there’s no getting out of the contract they agreed to when they took the money and sent a receipt.

  90. wesrubix says:

    @Deadeyereborn: no. They have every right to deny purchase. Hello? Amazon? get with the times.

  91. squikysquiken says:

    @Blinkman: “same liberal douches”

    Talk about gratuitous insults.

  92. ohgoodness says:

    This is a perfect opportunity for some fabulous PR. Airlines make themselves look like a bunch of scumbags and this would be an easy way of showing the public “Hey! We’re human and we mistakes too! lol! 5 Euro tickets!”

  93. ohgoodness says:

    @BrentNewland: Okay Genius McGee, I believe what everyone is suggesting is that yeah, if you took $500 and agreed to a contract and sent the buyer a reciept you would be bound to it. But the thing here is, they SOLD the tickets for the money. A normal private seller would just say “oh shit, my bad” before they accepted the money.

    Now you can sit the fuck down.

  94. adamcz says:

    If a customer buys tickets in error, are they offered a full refund? Or is the airline the only party who can break the contract?

  95. nXt says:

    @dorianh49: Man I was searching the comments for a pun and you’re the only one! Great job!

  96. chairde says:

    It doesn’t matter that it was a mistake. In life we all pay for our mistakes. The airlines are no different. A smart manager, which doesn’t exist in Aer Lingus, should have realized the benefit of just saying, “That’s our mistake but we stand by our ads and our word to the consumer.” But noooo some moron thought that not honoring your ad makes you look good to the consumer. I WILL NEVER FLY AER LINGUS,EVER!!