A website glitch on Thursday morning caused some Delta Airlines fares to be offered at deep discounts to normal prices, including a reported roundtrip between New York and Los Angeles for $40.
Delta on Thursday afternoon said the problem had been fixed, while saying it would honor tickets bought at the low fares.
"For a portion of the morning today, some prices on delta.com and other booking channels were incorrectly displayed, resulting in lower-than-usual fares for customers. The situation has been resolved and the correct prices are being displayed," said Delta spokesperson Trebor Banstetter.
The company did not specify the cause of the glitch.
Airfarewatchdogs.com, a travel and fare lookout website, said fares went as low as $40 for a round trip between New York and Los Angeles, and $200 for a first-class roundtrip ticket between Los Angeles and Hawaii.
Economy rates for roundtrip travel between New York and Los Angeles on Delta typically cost around $400 or more. A first-class roundtrip ticket from Los Angeles to Hawaii for the second week of January currently costs more than $3,500 on the Delta website.
"Airlines employ analysts whose job is to constantly monitor competition and keep tweaking rates. It is possible that one of them entered a wrong number," said George Hobica, founder of airfarewatchdogs.com.
Hobica said most of the software airlines use for adjusting rates do not have safety catches that cross check on a value entered, which makes it easier to make mistakes, especially during busy travel seasons.
In September, United Airlines had a similar problem, with its website selling tickets for as low as $5.
(Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Chicago; Editing by Leslie Adler)