Cathay Pacific Will Honor First/Business Class Error Fares – Despite Financial Struggles

Oh boy! Someone goofed up real bad.

On New Year’s Day, Cathay Pacific put 16,000 round trip tickets on sale, specifically Da Nang Vietnam to New York. Unfortunately, they forgot to set different prices for each ticket, so whilst Economy was priced at the very normal (but still a great deal) $675, so was premium economy… and business class… and first class!!!

What is the story?

For around 24 hours, tickets normally priced at $16,000 US for a round trip could be found for less than 10% of their value, leading to some very lucky passengers. The airline has not revealed just how many passengers bought the tickets.

Even better, Cathay Pacific has decided to come clean and honor the prices.

Some passengers who bought the tickets were skeptical, thinking it was part of a bigger media stunt by the airline.

This move really does go to show that Cathay Pacific has great public relations. We are reminded of a funny situation a couple of months ago where they misprinted their logo on the side of their own plane.

cathay pacific wrong name
Cathay Pacific painted the wrong name on their plane back in September.

Cathay took the event in their stride and made fun of the whole situation.

But this event could not have come at a worse time for the struggling airline…

Why is Cathay Pacific struggling

Cathay Pacific is in an interesting geographical situation. Based out of the hub of Hong Kong, it is in the epicenter of Asian air trade.

To the north in Guangzhou, lies the hub of China Southern, a huge Asian airline who is swallowing up what was previously Cathay Pacific’s safe territory. Plus, other Chinese airlines are slowly moving into the space as the Chinese economy grows.

China Southern A350
Deliveries of China Southern’s A350-900 aircraft should begin in 2019. Image: Airbus

To the south, budget airlines like Air Asia are sapping away regular business. With flight times so short between tourist destinations such as Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia, why pay a full fare for a full-service airline?

Air Asia A320
Air Asia operates 89 A320s, with a further 349 on order.

Then long-haul routes are evaporating to Qantas, Singapore, Emirates, Etihad, all of which have much safer hubs that are secure from competition.

qantas emirates flypast of two dreamliners
The Qantas-Emirates codesharing partnership was launched with this audacious flypast of two A380s over Sydney.

With the bottom of the market being eaten away by low-cost carriers, and the upper market being dominated by other players, what course of action does Cathay have?

But, they have our goodwill for honoring this price mistake. Many other airlines in the past have made this human error when entering prices, and have canceled all tickets bought, but not in this case.

Did you manage to get the ultra cheap tickets from Cathay? Let us know in the comments.