So, about a week and a half ago, social media exploded with posts about a possible glitch on the website of Norwegian airline called Widerøe. It seems that this small airline’s website had an error in its booking system, and Facebook was rife with posts where people could get tickets to most European countries for a small fraction of its normal cost and worth.
Usually I don’t pay much attention to these status updates, because if social media is already heavily onto it, there’s probably no way these kinds of glitch fares will last; also, I was reading someone’s Facebook post which she had updated over an hour ago. Still, I had nothing better to do so I decided to oblige my curiosity and see what Widerøe had to offer. I mean, people were claiming that there were return fares between New York City and Milan, Italy, for as little as $150! How could I skip that opportunity?
I went on to the website, and in my quickening anticipation-induced anxiety, I failed to even locate the language and currency switcher, leaving the website in the Norwegian language and in NOK while I searched for fares. Lo and behold, the prices that social media had an orgy over were still active! I immediately booked a ticket to my favorite destination, Warsaw, Poland, translating each word in a different browser tab as I filled out my personal information. I pressed the ‘submit’ button, and then I marveled at the fact that I might have just purchased a roundtrip ticket from NYC to Warsaw for only $265; this is almost $100 cheaper than a glitch fare I purchased as a mileage run about two years ago, also to Poland.
Though I just booked this cheap fare and I’d even received an email confirmation, I was well aware of the fact that the trip is not completely confirmed until I am ticketed. Forums were filled with people contemplating whether or not they would get ticketed, with some people spurring hope in others by posting of their ticketed flights. I know that these glitch fares are often cancelled by the airline once they realize the problem, so I wasn’t celebrating just yet. However, several people posted about the fact that this website is based in Norway, and in that country they have stricter laws protecting consumers; it seemed that the small airline might be forced to honor any and all glitch tickets they sold. Even so, I decided to book another two flights for the around the same dates, with the hope that at least one of them might eventually get ticketed. This time, I slowed down and was able to use the English and USD version of the site, and I booked another Warsaw ticket for the same price along with another roundtrip ticket to Milan for $160; the website stated that I had 24 hours to cancel, so I planned on waiting until the next day to see if I would get ticketed. Widerøe might be a small airline, but they seem to have partnered with many Star Alliance airlines, meaning more availability and destinations through codeshare agreements with the likes of United Airlines and Lufthansa.
Around midnight that night, I received an email: I was ticketed for that first Warsaw flight! Immediately after that, I was ticketed for the other two fares I had purchased, which I subsequently cancelled. I was in blissful shock.
During the time that the website error was live, there were many guesses as to what had caused the site to malfunction and allow these fares; some said that it might have been human error, perhaps a Black Friday fare sale that was scheduled a week early. Later, it was reported that the error with the Widerøe system had to do with it neglecting to include the fuel surcharges in its calculation at checkout. I felt a little guilty at what amounted to highway robbery by me at Widerøe’s expense, but as a budget traveler, I held on to it, while trying not to be too greedy and booking several more trips to Europe at the same time.
Warsaw, I’m back in January!