Small talk: Robot swimmers and a $33 ticket to Hong Kong

A glitch on United Airlines' website offered a $33 plane ticket to Hong Kong.

Kai Ryssdal: If ever there was a day it'd be nice to get away from the headlines, this is it. When we wanna do that we call our own Rico Gagliano and Brendan Francis Newnam, and have 'em ask around about the news that didn't really fit into the show this week.


Rico Gagliano: John Haas, editor and producer here at Marketplace. What story are you going to be talking about this weekend?

John Haas: Word was reported this week that Japan has created robots that swim.

Gagliano: Uh oh. Why?

Haas: To help people like Olympic swimmers learn how to do what they do even better.

Gagliano: But then the next step, of course, is that the robots replace the swimmers with robots. You know that, right?

Brendan Newnam: Reporter Sally Herships, what's your story?

Sally Herships: A Pennsylvania mom was just arrested for hacking into her kids' school system computer to change their grades.

Newnam: That is Tiger Mom on steroids.

Herships: Yeah. But here's why I find it interesting: She made it so her daughter was no longer failing, but she also changed her son's grade from 98 percent to 99.

Newnam: Well if she changed it to 100, that would be unfair.

Gagliano: Mark Garrison, New York reporter. What story are you going to be talking about this weekend?

Mark Garrison: Well, a first-class ticket to Asia on United will cost more than $33.

Gagliano: I thought I already knew that.

Garrison: Normally, that is the case. Normally, that's about $10,000 more than that, but they had a glitch in their website so the booking system allowed certain customers to book either for four frequent flier miles -- worth $33 -- they got a ticket to Hong Kong.

Gagliano: Is United going to honor these tickets, really?

Garrison: They honored them if your plane took off before they figured it out, basically.

Gagliano: And of course, passengers aren't actually saving that much, because with luggage fees, you're still paying like $2,000.

Garrison: As long as you keep it to one bag.


Ryssdal: The radio show Rico and Brendan have is called The Dinner Party.

About the author

Rico Gagliano is the host of Dinner Party Download.

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