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US newcomer Hong Kong Airlines took our community by storm yesterday with its outrageously cheap business-class tickets to Asia. For much of the day, you could book a round-trip flight in a lie-flat seat between the West Coast and Asia for less than $600. And many of us did.

While we of course hoped that the airline would honor the super-cheap tickets, there’s never a guarantee — years ago, “mistake fares” had a much better chance of being honored, but recently that’s been less often the case, with numerous carriers canceling tickets priced in error.

Fortunately, Hong Kong Airlines has made the right call here, and will honor any bookings that have been issued a ticket number — if your ticket was held but not issued, you’ll need to contact the carrier at 855-393-3880 to see if your hold will be honored. (Be warned — I waited 45 minutes just to get an agent on the line.)

Hong Kong Airlines flies brand-new Airbus A350-900s on its routes to the US, including staggered lie-flat seats in business class:

Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Airlines.
Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Airlines.

While yesterday’s flights were priced starting at $561, you’ll normally need to pay $3,000 and up for business travel on the same routes, which included Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) to Shanghai (PVG), Bangkok (BKK), Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) and Bali (DPS).

I may be completely off-base here, but given how long the flights were available to book, and how quickly the airline confirmed that they’ll be honored, I suspect that this may have been an “unadvertised sale” instead of a mistake fare. In other words, with a need to sell seats and market its new flight, the airline let business-class tickets go for a fraction of the price, knowing that it would drum up quite a bit of buzz. If that is indeed the case, clearly the stunt was a success.

Of course the airline representative I spoke to wasn’t willing to provide any hints — he more or less stuck to a script, saying “As long as the ticket has been issued it will be honored. That is all that I can say.” The agent did confirm that he received a memo concerning the discounted fare, though, which reinforced that issued tickets would be honored.

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