Virgin Blue's Web site toppled under traffic loads seven times its normal volume as a flood of people attempted to capitalize on the Australian airline's $2.53 Internet airfare sale. Online customers, excited by the airline's audacious offer to fly off-peak from Melbourne to Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide or Launceston for the price of a beer, are likely to be disappointed by error messages telling them that the page does not exist.
A Virgin Blue executive said the airline attracted more customers than it had expected and had "ramped things up" earlier in the day. The company, which says it sells two-thirds of its tickets online, said it had extra servers on hand to handle the spike in traffic. Virgin Blue anticipates that the remaining seats will be sold within the next 24 to 48 hours.
Staff writer Andrew Colley reported from Sydney.