The Chicago Tribune reported Saturday that United Airlines posted fares for free briefly on Thursday and that the tickets were sold with customers obligated to pay a $2.50 per flight leg security fee and $5 or $10 per ticket.
The airline did not say how many tickets were scooped up during the glitch, but Forbes magazine said many domestic flights were listed at $0 for the fare plus $5 for a flight tax. Some customers "scooped up over a dozen tickets to destinations all over the country," Forbes reported, including consumers who found flights from Washington, D.C., to Hawaii that only cost $10.
The Tribune said that the airline was not legally obligated to honor the mistaken fares, but the airline, which blamed the mistake on human error, was forced to weigh the difference between the anger that could be aroused by by not honoring the tickets and the prices of the seats they had given away.
The airline concluded that honoring the tickets was the way to go.
"We've reviewed the error that occurred yesterday and based on these specific circumstances, we will honor the tickets," United announced with an online posting on Twitter.