That was one fun roller coaster ride…
Let me start by saying this: the Airbus A350 is my favorite plane. Bali and Thailand are two of my favorite destinations, and Hong Kong is one of the best stopover cities. Oh, and business class, especially the business class offered on these particular Hong Kong Airlines flights, is really spectacular. For those that don’t already know, Hong Kong Airlines, either intentionally or not, offered $560 round trip business class airfare between Los Angeles, Bali, Bangkok or Shanghai. That’s more than 28 hours in the air. The deals lasted mere hours, if that, and then were gone. Many, many of our readers booked, and had the fear in their minds that like most “too good to be true” things in life, this would become one of them. Hong Kong Airlines has officially confirmed it’s not too good to be true, and did so in wonderful fashion.
So about that 600 USD business class transpacific fare 😳….we did it, we will honour it, and perhaps a few people will get to travel on our news business class product being introduced in September to LA. What’s not to like?✈️
— Hong Kong Airlines (@hkairlines) August 18, 2018
First – thank you to Hong Kong Airlines for treating passengers with dignity, perhaps even more than deserved. Honoring this deal will literally, legitimately impact peoples lives, and expose them to parts of the world they may never have experienced, in styles they could’ve never imagined. Taking away said dream, even if they knew it maybe shouldn’t have been there in the first place does no good in the world. It wins no fans, it fills no seats and it just becomes a hangover for everyone involved. Saying “we own this, and we’re excited to welcome you on board” sends an outrageously thoughtful and welcoming message to everyone. That’s how you do business. Any good fine dining restaurant owns every mistake.
Second – Hong Kong Airlines isn’t the first to do this, and I find the numbers amusing. Here’s an important thought: airlines have blurred the lines of what’s clearly a mistake, and what’s a flash sale designed to create buzz, and customers shouldn’t have to decide which one they’re looking at. When Qatar Airways launched a crazy “golden ticket” promotion, which lasted mere hours, the price was $550 for business class. When ANA temporarily offered business class to Australia, the price was $560. My only conspiracy theory is that this was a brilliant marketing ploy, which could not have come at a more impactful time for the emerging airline, and drew inspiration from these other previously honored experiments. Cathay Pacific, the other Hong Kong airline is experienced greater than anticipated losses and is in for an uphill battle as new airlines emerge. What a way for Hong Kong Airlines to make a debut impact on the ripe U.S. travel market.
Third – they (Hong Kong Airlines) actually made us feel good about these fares. People hate waiting, panicking, wondering if they can book onward travel, or if it’s all going to come crashing down. The airline has practically written a PR manual for how to handle what other airlines *cough* have bungled. Within 48 hours, everyone who made a confirmed booking knows it’s legitimate and as hoped. Furthermore, the airline said it was “the right thing to do”, which sends a powerful message of their core values and what people can expect from a customer perspective. Doing the “right” thing, even if the computer disagrees, wins more good will with people who make travel decisions than any airline policy maker could possibly understand from spreadsheets and metrics. Yes, I just said that.
Was this all a brilliant rouse? Who cares. The conspiracy theorist in me feels it was too well organized and too exciting for it not to be, but at the end of the day, all I have is thanks. The airline helped build the value of my brand, by making our readers happy and more excited than ever. People will see parts of the world they may never have otherwise witnessed, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. For what it’s worth, if I have a few grand laying around for a trip to Asia in business class, Hong Kong Airlines just made a serious leap towards the top of my wallet. Congrats to everyone that booked. It was a thrill to be a part of.