I wish I had heard this before now. I just heard this on the news.
Around 300 passengers, including Aer Lingus staff, seized on the airline’s offer to fly to the US in the luxury of business class for next to nothing. But the airline later cancelled all bookings, saying its website had wrongly sold seats normally costing €1,775 for just €5. Yesterday, Aer Lingus was forced to backtrack after intervention by the Government’s National Consumer Agency (NCA) and threats of legal action from passengers.
Aer Lingus is to allow the 300 passengers who bought cheap business-class seats to travel in economy class instead. Airline spokesman Niall Bradley said: “Aer Lingus announces that it will offer all customers who made bookings during the reservation error the option to travel in economy class at the price of their original booking.” Last night, the Consumers’ Association of Ireland (CAI), which is an independent charity, remained unhappy with the deal brokered by the government-run NCA. “Passengers have a legal contract to travel in business class and should seek legal advice,” said CAI chief executive Dermott Jewell. But the NCA said the deal offered by Aer Lingus was fair — although passengers still had the right to take the matter before the courts. On Thursday, Aer Lingus initially said 100 customers were affected by its cancellations but yesterday raised this number to 300.
Among them was Dublin computer worker Colm Byrne, aged 40, who had planned to take his wife Elaine, 39, to New York in June for their 10th wedding anniversary. “It is good news but Aer Lingus could have avoided a lot of trouble by honouring the bookings in the first place,” he said. The airline’s decision also gained worldwide media coverage with commentators accusing Aer Lingus of scoring a public relations own-goal. “It is regrettable that this technical error occurred and Aer Lingus recognises and accepts that customers were upset and inconvenienced,” said Mr Bradley. “Aer Lingus apologises unreservedly to all customers.”