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Website Glitch Offers El Al Passengers Massive Airfare Bargain

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A costly error for an airline leads to a great deal for many air travelers.

A glitch on the website for Israeli airline El Al posted airfares for about 75 percent off this week. And some very lucky travelers got in on the deal before the airline fixed it. New York-to-Tel Aviv fares typically go for $1,600 to $1,900.

WCBS 880's Alex Silverman reports


"I said, $350, it's cheaper than going to Florida for Thanksgiving," Brooklyn resident Joey Monsoir told WCBS 880's Alex Silverman.

Monsoir told his extended family about the deal and he said they cashed in, too.

"Me and my wife, her three brothers, her parents, her parents booked again for March," Monsoir told WCBS 880's Silverman. "Three kids bought, then another one."

"It was probably a total of 20, 25 tickets," bought by his extended family, Monsoir said.

Bethany Mandel, of Washington Heights, said she also jumped on the deal and purchased the tickets within 15 minutes of seeing the offer.

"I was G-chatting it to all my friends and e-mailing it to all of my friends and they were like, 'We spent that on Chicago,'" Mandel said.

It was a jaw dropper for Borough Park's Emmanuel Friedman and anyone also with an Israel trip on their bucket list.

"People are dreaming of going to Israel all their life and they can't pay $1,950 or even $1,650, so when they heard about the $350 they ran to their computer to book tickets for the whole family," Friedman told CBS 2's Dave Carlin.

Joseph Jacobowitz, a travel agent with Kesher Tours, said what he initially thought must be a scam was real, and he wasted no time getting three tickets to Tel Aviv for the price of one for his family.

"When he told me I hung up on him and it took me two minutes to take care of it," Jacobowitz told CBS 2's Carlin.

In all, about 5,000 tickets were sold before the error was fixed. El Al blamed an outside contractor for the mistake.

"Usually, corporations, it's always on their side. Sorry for El Al but happy for all the people that managed to score a ticket," said Hannah Seligson of Borough Park.

"Communities in our area tend to have big families, so everybody jumped on it," Monsoir added.

Monsoir said he was skeptical at first but bought the tickets anyway, just in case it turned out the be legitimate.

"If you follow everything online, you can get in on a deal like this and save thousands of dollars," Monsoir said.

"It's a mistake. It's a glitch. They gotta eat it," Jacobowitz added.

Earlier, the airline, posting on its verified Twitter account, said it will honor the deeply discounted tickets. However, they later issued an official statement that said: "Details and decisions regarding the incorrect airfares that were briefly sold on Monday of this week have not yet been finalized. An update will be provided Thursday."

Airline pricing mistakes are quite common. Last July, United mistakenly offered $40 flights to Hong Kong. It dealt with the problem by issuing $200 gift certificates to some customers. British Airways did something similar a few years ago to regain goodwill after price glitches annoyed customers.

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