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Pricing snafu allows cheap flights to Israel

By David Ariosto, CNN
updated 3:52 PM EDT, Wed August 8, 2012
  • The El Al Airlines flight typically costs somewhere around $1,300
  • The airline that said an outside contractor it uses was responsible for the error
  • It could not yet say whether the deep-discount tickets would be honored
  • Thousands made the purchase

New York (CNN) -- Round-trip airline tickets between New York and Israel plunged to unusually low prices this week, sinking to under $400 and prompting hordes of customers to tap into what was described Wednesday as a pricing snafu.

The El Al Airlines flight typically costs somewhere around $1,300. The airline said an outside contractor it uses -- which was not named -- was responsible for the error, though it could not yet say whether the tickets would be honored for the thousands who made the purchase.

"That company posted incorrect EL AL fares on several travel websites," said Sheryl Stein, a spokeswoman for the airline.

"On a daily basis, any published airfare consists of the basic fare, a fuel surcharge and taxes," she said in a statement. "In this situation, the fuel surcharge was omitted."

But news of Monday's sale had already spread before the fix was made.

"I called my wife, she said, 'Absolutely, let's go. Let's all go,'" said Joe Mansour. "I booked the whole family, my wife, her parents and her three brothers."

The 28-year-old Brooklyn resident added, "Altogether we booked about 20-25 tickets."

"All this took me about an hour to buy all these tickets."

The mistaken deal also spread across social media, including Facebook.

"What happened to the $400 tickets?!?!" Chasida Sherman wrote on the airline's official Facebook page. "I was checking out on and then it said the price DOUBLED!!!!"

The airline said that it planned to make a decision on whether to honor the purchased tickets on Thursday.

CNN Dan Verello contributed to this report.