Image: Aer Lingus jet
Adrian Dennis  /  AFP/Getty Images
Bad luck of the Irish: Aer Lingus encountered some turbulence after rescinding an $8 air fare to the U.S.
By Brian Tracey Associate editor
msnbc.com
updated 4/18/2008 1:34:40 PM ET 2008-04-18T17:34:40
COMMENTARY

This has to be the ulitmate in discount air travel: A software glitch on the Web site of Irish airline Aer Lingus enabled passengers to buy business-class tickets to the U.S. for $8.

According to the BBC, about 100 people snapped up the tickets, which normally cost $2,850 each way, before the error was spotted.

The airline said it would not honor the tickets, but consumer-rights groups called for the passengers to be compensated.

Aer Lingus said the problem was linked to an offer where customers buying a premier class seat got one free.

"The problem was the free seats actually leaked onto the Web site," an airline spokesman said.

He said that "anyone would have known it was a mistake when they made the bookings."

The airline has written to customers notifying them of the cancelled tickets.

Aer Lingus said no funds were deducted from customers' bank accounts.

Dermott Jewell, chief executive of the Consumers' Association of Ireland, told Irish broadcaster RTE that customers should be compensated.

"Customers had a binding contract with Aer Lingus," he said.

Maybe they could honor the tickets if the passengers chip in for the jet fuel.

Foul fossil fuel
National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp. crews have been busy with a smelly problem in about 850 Erie, Pa.-area homes. The gas company says too much of an odoriferous chemical was added to natural gas, prompting hundreds of calls from residents concerned about gas leaks.

The substance, called mercaptan, is added so people can "smell" natural gas, which is odorless and colorless in its natural state.

The utility started getting calls this week and had logged some 850 complaints. By law, the company had to send crews to each home to make sure the problem was just too much mercaptan and not an actual gas leak.

NFG officials say crews did find small leaks at a few homes, but in most cases the extra mercaptan was to blame for the smell.

We're sure homeowners with gas stoves really liked being told that their cooking stinks.

Snack sacks celebrated
This is taking the you-can't-eat-just-one thing too far: The world's largest collection of used potato chip bags went on display in a German museum this week.

"Snap! Towards the Cultural History of a Snack" at the Hamaland museum in Vreden, northwest Germany, showcases the 2,000-bag collection of local resident Bernd Schikora, impoortalized in the the Guinness Book of World Records.

Potato chips became wildly popular in Germany after World War II when U.S. soldiers arrived carrying the salty snacks, and are now known as "crisps" across the Continent.

"Crisps are a snack whose history hasn't really been explored," museum director Annette Menke was quoted in South Africa's Mail & Guardian newspaper.

The collection includes examples from Europe, the United States and Asia, part of an industry with global sales of about $16 billion annually, according to market research firm Datamonitor.

"Their packaging over the years clearly shows trends in marketing strategy," Menke said.

That gives us an idea. During the Christmas season Germans would probably love to wolf down a tube of Kris Pringles.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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