Air Canada deal of 10 flights for $800 a computer glitch; packages cancelled

An Air Canada passenger jet takes off from Halifax on January 21, 2013. Earlier this week, Air Canada's website offered a package of 10 flights within Western Canada for a total cost of $800 before taxes.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

CALGARY - It was too good to be true.

Earlier this week, Air Canada’s website offered a package of 10 flights within Western Canada for a total cost of $800 before taxes.

Two Calgary men quickly snapped up the promotion.

They each received a confirmation number and a receipt, but the next day, when they tried to book a trip, they couldn't find their purchases on their Air Canada accounts.

When they called the airline to find out what the problem was, they were told it was an error — the package deal was supposed to be priced at $8,000.

Air Canada wouldn't say how many packages had been purchased, but in an emailed statement to CTV Calgary, said it will honour any bookings made before it caught the error.

"On the evening of August 25, a computer loading error resulted in a temporary mispricing of a Western USA Flight Pass product for Business Class travel. The product, good for 10 flight legs, was displayed at CAD800 instead of the correct price of CAD8,000," the statement said.

"Once Air Canada became aware of the error on the evening of August 26, the passes were withdrawn from sale and the booking of flight credits was inhibited. Air Canada is contacting purchasers to apologize and provide a refund. However, any flight pass credit bookings already made using the passes will be honoured."

Customers are furious the airline rescinded the offer.

“I don't think they can charge you for something, advertise a certain price, take your money, give you a receipt for it and then unilaterally change their policies to suit their mistake,” said Risdon.

A Vancouver-based lawyer said there could be a case for a class-action lawsuit.

“There was an offer, there was an acceptance, there is a binding contract,” said Chris Rhone. “Now, the onus shifts over to Air Canada to prove some defence to that, such as it was a mistake. In a written contract that can be fairly difficult or they can say there are other terms of this contract.”

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