|Frequent flyer miles, maybe good for the customer, but hazardous for the airline. That was the discovery Continental Airlines made, when it experienced turbulence online. |
The Airline in a promotional effort started an online game called 'Spin and Play' in which players (passengers) clicked on an icon to 'spin' a wheel of fortune, similar to Casino games. In return, the player would win or accumulate 250 miles for just playing the game. But a technical error made these frequent fliers into mileage millionaires for a day last week before the problem was spotted and totals rectified.
The goof-up? Instead of participants winning 250 frequent-flier miles for playing an Internet game sponsored by MasterCard, the airline credited 250,000 miles to their accounts. Just 249750 miles more.
In 'Spin and Play' players could participate multiple times. This resulted in some fliers piling up millions of miles instead of hundreds of miles in their Continental OnePass accounts when they checked online last week. Some passengers were thrilled, thinking they struck the contest's jackpot.
Allie Williamson of Columbia Station, Ohio raked in 750,000 new miles to her account adding her total to over 1 million. She had previously earned 300,000 miles before the contest.
Luckily, Continental detected the error through its own 'internal audit' system and this week, Continental started deleting miles from frequent fliers' accounts and canceling reservations they had booked.
Last December, Starwood Hotels like Continental Airlines messed up with their zeros. They sold bungalows at a Bora Bora resort in the South Pacific for $85 a night over the Internet, when the actual price for the rooms was $850 a night. After rectifying the error, Starwood discovered that it would cost the company $2 million in lost revenue.