Computer glitch at United Airlines leads to tickets sold for $2.5

A round-trip ticket from New York to Houston sold yesterday for $5 on the United Airlines booking system, Los Angeles Times reported. A computer glitch led to the system issuing an unknown number of tickets at ultra-low fares for about two hours, the report said.

A flight from Washington, DC to Austin Texas cost $2.5 during the two hour regime.

The airlines' officials briefly shut down the online reservation system before they announced that the problem had been fixed by early afternoon.

According to an airline spokeswoman, the super-low fares would be honoured.  

Last August and November, the company was forced to ground hundreds of United flights across the country due to computer problems.

According to industry experts the merging of the carrier's reservation system with that of Continental Airlines might have caused the problem.

The $0 fares which were on United.com website for ''a couple hours'' at midday and were not distributed via channels such as travel agencies, according to Megan McCarthy, a spokeswoman for the unit of Chicago-based United Continental Holdings Inc. She added, United's Shares reservation system did not cause the fault, she said, though she gave no further details.

According to Rick Seaney, chief executive officer of FareCompare.com, a ticket research firm based in Dallas, many of the tickets cost $5 or $10 in total suggesting that United was only collecting a mandatory 9/11 security fee of $2.50 per leg.

In a similar pricing mistake in May 2002, a fare sale accidentally appeared as a $5 round-trip ticket for about 45 minutes, according to a Chicago Tribune report at the time.

The incident today came as at least, the fourth public computer disruption at United since March 2012, when the airline switched its former Apolo reservation system over to Shares, the programme used by merger partner Continental Airlines. The airline's former parent, UAL Corp, merged with Continental in October 2010.