CNA – All 12,500 free air tickets to Hong Kong were snapped up within an hour of Cathay Pacific launching its online giveaway in Singapore yesterday, amid complaints about the registration process on the airline’s website.
The giveaway, called World of Winners, launched at noon and was to run until 11.59pm on March 8. It is part of Hong Kong’s USD12.7 million campaign to revive tourism, including by giving away 500,000 air tickets.
But about 40 minutes after the launch in Singapore, a notice on Cathay Pacific’s website for the campaign said that all the tickets had been awarded.
Cathay Pacific confirmed with CNA that all 12,500 round-trip tickets on offer were allocated within the first hour of the campaign.
To enter the contest, registrants had to be Cathay members, sign in on the campaign website and answer three questions correctly. The first 12,500 entrants will win a free economy class round-trip air ticket to Hong Kong.
Cathay Pacific said that the results will be announced on March 20. Winners will be informed via email and must still pay the relevant taxes and surcharges.
When CNA visited the campaign’s website at 12.15pm, more than 85,000 users were already in the queue ahead, and the estimated waiting time was more than an hour.
Cathay Pacific said it was “very encouraged by the enthusiastic response” from its members.
“Our website functioned well during the registration period. We appreciate the understanding of some members who had to queue to enter the campaign site,” the airline said in a statement.
“We understand that a system maintenance message was shown to some participants intermittently on our campaign page when the campaign started, but we understand that this only lasted for a minute or so.”
Earlier, participants who were unsuccessful at entering the giveaway went online to air their complaints about the registration process.
Some participants in the Telegram group linked to travel website MileLion shared screenshots of the “system maintenance” page that they encountered when the contest opened at 12pm.
On Cathay Pacific’s Facebook page, some commenters said that the airline’s website showed error messages or redirected them, causing them to lose their place in the online queue.
“If the website is not able to handle this amount of people, why not set a limit on how many people can enter the contest and hold it for several days instead of putting all the tickets out at the same timing?” commented a participant.
A participant who did not wish to be named told CNA that she managed to snag a queue number that was “12,300 plus”, within the quota of 12,500.
But at 12.43pm, before she was admitted to the campaign website to register, Cathay Pacific posted a notice that all the tickets had been awarded.
When her turn arrived, she was redirected to a notice saying that her queue number had been rejected and she needed to rejoin the queue.
“I find the entire process dubious. I have another friend who was within the 12,500 quota and we have screenshots of our queue number but both of us encountered exactly the same,” she said.
Another participant, Melissa Wang, felt that Cathay Pacific should have automatically stopped the online queue once the number of participants exceeded the number of tickets available.
Her own queue number was in the 80,000s. “I thought I still had the chance to continue queuing for it as it stated that there were around 70,000 people queuing as well,” she said.
“It would have been so much better if we could all enter a raffle with our particulars to get picked rather than it being on a (first come, first served) basis,” she added.
“Most of the people who tried their luck are also people who can clearly afford their own flight tickets. It’s unfair in my opinion.”