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Disappointed Western Canadian travellers discover bitter truth about airfares that seemed too good to be true

A WestJet plane waits at a gate at Calgary International Airport in Calgary, on Aug. 31, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh A WestJet plane waits at a gate at Calgary International Airport in Calgary, on Aug. 31, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
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A bunch of would-be Alberta globetrotters woke up Friday morning to a few airfares that sounded too good to be true.

According to YYC Deals, the popular web site that scours the web for unbeatable airfares, Flight Hub was offering what appeared to be stunningly cheap round-trip airfares between Lethbridge and Medicine Hat and European destinations such as Dublin, London and Paris.

According to YYC Deals research, there were round-trip flights for $155 being offered between Lethbridge and Dublin, around $242 between Lethbridge and London or $302 between Lethbridge and Paris.

The fares were likely "mistake fares," YYC Deals' Myden wrote.

"WestJet's mistake fares to Europe seem to pop up every few years. Sometimes they've worked out, other times they haven't."

"It's always tough to know if tickets will be issued in a situation like this, so proceed with caution," Myden added. "If you do attempt to book these, do not book anything non-refundable for at least 48 hours."

YYC Deals updated its page throughout the morning showing that a number of people booked flights.

"Just booked YEG to LGW return for $232 CAD," wrote Peter, "and looks like its been confirmed (received a Westjet confirmation number). Will update if anything changes."

Caitlin said, "I booked October 19-27 YEG to DUB and it was $212 RT! A friend booked for the same dates from YELLOWKNIFE (!!!) and also got under $300 prices. I've received a Westjet code and an eTicket number. Hope it works!"

A Friday morning search did yield some astonishingly affordable airfares to Dublin and London, alongside other return fares of around $1,600.

One return trip flight between Oct. 10 and Oct. 20 from Lethbridge to Dublin was advertised for $212 round trip.

Calgary resident Riley and his fiancee booked a pair of round-trip tickets between Lethbridge and Paris (via Calgary) with an airfare that totaled $337.26.

REVERSAL OF FORTUNE

However, you know what they say about when something appears too good to be true.

Friday night at 10:22 p.m., Riley received a text message.

"We regret to inform you that WestJet has request us to cancel your reservation as result of a third-party error that occurred during the booking process.

"A full refund will be processed back to the original form of payment within the next few business days."

Saturday morning, a WestJet spokesperson confirmed that the too-good-to-be-true airfares were in fact not true.

"On Friday, we were made aware of a third-party error resulting from a version update on its system that caused WestJet fares to display incorrectly on a limited number of third-party websites," it said.

After buying a super-cheap flight to Europe, the following text was received cancelling the flight

"It is important to note that WestJet has not made any changes to our fare pricing and these fares were unfortunately displayed in error.

"Immediate actions were taken to correct the issue; and we worked with these third-parties to notify those impacted as quickly as possible.

"We understand how frustrating this situation has been for those who booked. Any guest impacted will receive direct communication via the third-party website they booked through."

According to Riley, everyone appears to be getting their money back, "but no option to rebook.

"I had doubts about this deal," he added. "That's why I confirmed it with Flighthub via online chat and they confirmed and said don't worry."

CTV News has reached out to YYC Deals and Flighthub for comment.

FLIGHTHUB STATEMENT:

Saturday afternoon, Flighthub issued a statement.

"Thank you for bringing this to our attention and please extend our sincere apologies for the inconvenience," it said.

"Unfortunately, for a short period of time yesterday, some invalid WestJet fares were made available to book via a third-party technology platform that is used by WestJet and other airlines to distribute tickets to travel agencies such as FlightHub. The error was made by the third-party provider (which is neither FlightHub or WestJet).

"We at FlightHub quickly disabled access to these fares once we determined that they were invalid and coordinated with WestJet to determine a mitigation plan."

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