By COLlive reporter
They should consider making a new domain name extension .glitch.
Eye-popping prices for flights from New York’s JFK Airport to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion had American Jews scrambling to the travel booking websites on Monday.
Word spread at 11:11 AM when the bargain-hunters website DansDeals.com posted “SIZZLING! RUN!!! JFK To Tel Aviv For Just $336.80 Round-Trip With Tax!”
Text messages and emails began circulating the news and Facebook and other social media sites were abuzz over the rare – and almost unbelievable – deal.
While some dismissed it as a scam or were scrabbling to find the funds, many rushed to Orbitz.com and Expedia.com and snatched the opportunity to fly to the Holy Land between October 28, 2012 and March 19, 2013.
The flights were on El Al airlines with routes operated mostly by American Airlines, with a lay over in European cities like Zurich, Paris, London and Madrid.
“This was a dream come true,” said one Lubavitcher who had been planning on traveling to Israel with his family for a while.
“We didn’t have the funds to fly the whole family in. So this was simply amazing! We quickly booked and didn’t even check which dates would be best – as long as we get there!” he told COLlive.com.
As expected, the opportunity was short-lived.
A little while later, the deal was already gone from Orbitz, although other sites still carried the fare. However at around 1:30 PM Eastern Time, single tickets to Israel for the same dates were already $1,000 and over at all travel sites.
Related to this sale or not, the wait time to speak to a customer service representative for travel site Expedia was over 45 minutes after the news of the deal spread, up from 2 minutes wait earlier today. One travel seeker said she called at 1:43 PM and has been on hold for close to an hour.
One clearly agitated El Al representative told a COLlive reporter that “someone will have to pay for this…”
The person said that Israel’s national airline did not offer the deeply discounted deal and that it was “a glitch.”
He said the booking sites “will have to pay for the difference in price or they will not honor the reservations.” He added that it should take a few days to “clear up the issue and (find out) what will be.”
In July 2012, a computer glitch lowered the airfare for a first class flight on United Airlines from New York to Hong Kong to the price of 4 frequent flier miles and $33 in taxes – a price practically free for a seat that regularly sells for $10,250.
United eventually pulled the plug and announced it wasn’t honoring tickets already sold, AP reported. People could get a refund without paying a penalty or have the proper amount of miles deducted.
UPDATE (Aug. 6, 2012 6:02pm):
The official Twitter account of El Al in the USA tweeted the following: “An outside company posted incorrect fares on travel sites, so all tickets sold will indeed by honored.”