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Cathay sells US$16,000 premium seats for US$675 in ticketing blunder

Cathay Pacific Airways, Asia's biggest international carrier, sold business-class tickets from Vietnam to Canada and the US at economy prices earlier this week.

[SINGAPORE] All eyes are on Cathay Pacific Airways as it decides what to do with the tickets that it appeared to have sold in error at a fraction of their prices.

Asia's biggest international carrier sold business-class tickets from Vietnam to Canada and the US at economy prices earlier this week, according to bloggers. Return fares in the premium cabin from Da Nang to New York started at US$675 for travel in August, Gary Leff, a travel and loyalty-program blogger on View from the Wing, wrote on Dec 31. Travel from Hanoi to Vancouver and back in a mix of business and first class could cost less than US$1,000, according to a post on One Mile at a Time.

A business-class return ticket to New York from Vietnam's Da Nang costs around US$16,000 for travel in July and September, according Cathay's website on Wednesday. Ticket prices weren't available for August on the website.

While Cathay didn't immediately say whether it would honor the bookings, the mistake adds to the embarrassments for the Hong Kong carrier that's struggling to turn its fortunes around while competition intensifies from Chinese and budget airlines. The pricing gaffe comes on the heels of a sophisticated hack on Cathay's computer systems last year that exposed private information of 9.4 million passengers in the world's biggest airline data breach.

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Cathay is aware of the pricing issue and will provide more details later, a spokeswoman for the carrier said by phone.

Other airlines have made similar pricing errors. Singapore Airlines in 2014 and Hong Kong Airlines last year honored business-class tickets mistakenly sold at economy fares. Both carriers didn't disclose how many people purchased the cheaper tickets.

Cathay had sold tickets to the US and other destinations from Vietnam in a promotional offer that ended Dec 31, according to its website. Round trip business tickets to Los Angeles were sold from US$2,940.