Hong Kong Airlines’ website was jammed for hours yesterday as local airlines started to give away part of the 500,000 free plane tickets to tourists in Southeast Asia.
The tickets are part of the government’s Hello Hong Kong promotion launched last month to lure in an extra 1.5 million visitors in six months.
The tickets will be given away through the city’s airlines in phases from yesterday.
The websites of both Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Airlines saw disruptions, but the problem at Hong Kong Airlines was more serious as it started giving away round-trip “zero-dollar” tickets from Bangkok, Hanoi and Manila on a firstcome, first-served basis.
People trying to visit the airline’s website were told more than 1,000 people were in the queue, with a wait of more than two hours. The airline apologized for the inconvenience and appealed to people to use its app instead.
“The Hong Kong Airlines website is out of service due to high traffic issues and we are working hard to get our website back up and running,” the airline said.
“In the meantime, customers may use our online services through the Hong Kong Airlines mobile app. We deeply apologize for the inconvenience caused.”
It also said on Facebook
that the waiting time of the official site was longer than usual due to extremely heavy traffic, urging tourists to use its app for the purchase.
But web users left comments under the post, saying they could not buy tickets or use other functions of the app as well.
“I have to wait for three hours for online check-in and the webpage was loading slowly. It would take two hours using the app,” one said.
Cathay Pacific will give out 80,000 free round-trip tickets, among which 17,400 were first distributed to passengers in Thailand yesterday.
But some people also waited a few minutes to enter the airline’s “World of Winners” campaign page for the free ticket offer.
The airline said the 17,400 tickets on offer were snapped up within the first hour and the results will be announced on March 17.
“We are very encouraged by the enthusiastic response from our Cathay members who registered for the World of Winners ticket offers campaign in Thailand,” it said.
“Our website functioned well during the registration period. We appreciate the understanding of some members who had to queue to enter the campaign site.”
As Hong Kong’s flag carrier, Cathay Pacific is excited to be supporting the government scheme to welcome tourists from around the world, it added.
The registration for 12,500 tickets from Singapore will start today and 20,400 tickets from the Philippines tomorrow.
To get the free plane tickets, passengers must sign up as a Cathay Pacific member and answer three questions correctly, the airline said.
Tourism sector lawmaker Perry Yiu Pak-leung said airlines should have prepared for high traffic as many tourists are interested in the free tickets.
“The free plane tickets scheme is an eye-catching promotion and I believe most tourists interested in Hong Kong want to get the tickets, so the enthusiastic response is expected,” Yiu said.
He hoped tourists could stay for a longer time in Hong Kong.