rows of red and white seats in an airplane
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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.

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.

rows of red and white seats in an airplaneThird – 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.

Kudos to Hong Kong Airlines. You’ve got new fans.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Finally a breath of fresh air. Good for the ppl who booked it. I’m still waiting for an ex EU QR fare to book flights to Oz. Don’t think it will happen though due to the losses QR have been facing plus the bigger impact of blockade on Qatar as a country

  2. Congrats to everyone who got this deal. I was never able to replicate the prices despite trying multiple times to multiple destinations even before people started posting they had booked tickets. Just wasn’t to be for me.

  3. This was not a mistake fare. Their loads were significantly lower than competitors on the route. It made sense to fill the plane. Did they sell more than they wanted? Probably.. but it’s still good marketing. This will be my first time transiting HK without being about to go to the Pier or the Wing lounges though.

  4. Is this was planned why did they sell business seats for a lower price than economy? It was an error fare. But they took responsibility for it. Good management owns their mistakes.

  5. As per the tweet, are they launching new business class product on LAX route? Does anyone have info on that?

  6. I completely disagree with you, respectfully of course.
    Every person who took advantage of this mistake fare and is praising HK Airlines, will not make their future travel plans taking into consideration the bargain they got this time.
    As usual, we will do what is best for us considering, prices, miles and points to be earned and our convenience.
    All this praising is merely BS so HK Airlines will not break their promise to honor these fares.

    1. I think you are wrong, respectfully.

      Every airline that has honoured an error fare has seen repeat business, or at least consideration when I’ve made further bookings. BA, however, can suck my balls after cancelling an error fare that wasn’t really that much of an error fare anyway.

    2. Respectfully, of course, I disagree with you.

      Last year ANA honored their fare. Guess which program I started participating in? I earned Star Alliance Gold this year from butt in seat flying, in part because of my experience with them and how they handled everything. Money has gone into their pocket, and their partners pocket because of their good gesture.

      It’s the same here. I do buy business tickets to Asia, it’s one of my favorite parts of the world, and if there’s a competitive price on HK versus another airline, I’ll probably give HK the benefit. I for one am not worried about them “breaking their promises”…

  7. Given that, at this current moment, and seemingly since this fare issue, their systems are very strange the last couple days (google Flights does not list prices and just says to check their website, and the page does not even load today or yesterday) I think this was a real problem that was not intentional or coordinated. I could be wrong but it does not feel like a coordinated marketing attempt to me given the wonkyness of their systems at this time.

  8. Snagged an LAX-BKK flight, but hesitated too long to get in on the LAX-DPS, so I hope whoever got the seat I wanted enjoys it.

    I’ve flown Hong Kong Airlines previously between LAX and HKG, but only in economy and economy plus. The economy flight was predictably cozy for my 6’4″, 250# mass, but otherwise every experience with them has been positive. Very much looking forward to enjoying the perks up front, but it won’t affect my future flight plans because, based on past experience, I already prefer to book with their airline.

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