washingtonpost.com  > Business > Industries > Transportation

$1.86 Flights: Too Good to Last

By Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 19, 2005; Page E01

US Airways set off a buying frenzy on Saturday, selling about 1,000 round-trip tickets in a few hours. The advertised price: $1.86.

Oops, the airline now says. Because of a computer glitch, US Airways posted the $1.86 round-trip price on flights in and out of eight airports. As soon as airline executives discovered the error, they immediately shut down the super-cheap fares. But US Airways said it will honor the tickets sold.

The bargain-basement prices were on flights in and out of Altoona, Pa.; Johnstown, Pa.; Jamestown, N.Y.; Asheville, N.C.; Bradford, Pa.; Hilton Head, S.C.; Watertown, N.Y.; and Lebanon, N.H.

The near-giveaway comes as the Arlington-based airline is wrestling with high fuel costs and trying to boost revenue in an effort to emerge from bankruptcy protection later this summer.

Most of the customers who swooped in were alerted by the Web site www.flyertalk.com. One of the site's moderators posted an alert to its members.

Many of the travelers decided to take the flights not because they wanted to visit the cities but to snatch up frequent flier miles.

Alexandria resident Alysia Brown grabbed 12 tickets. To ensure she got the most frequent flier miles possible, she arranged a series of stopovers on one journey taking her from Baltimore to Watertown to Houston and back. Total price: $39, including airport taxes.

"I'm going to make out pretty good on the miles," she said.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company