British Airways has apologised after cancelling bargain tickets to the Middle East after getting the fares wrong.

MoneySavingExpert claimed to have seen many complaints from travellers who last week booked cheap BA flights via third-party agents to destinations including Dubai and Tel Aviv, often for £200-£300.

In some cases those who booked went on to organise separate accommodation.

But BA cancelled the tickets after identifying what it insisted was an “exceptionally rare” pricing error.

The airline apologised, refunded the tickets and has offered each traveller a £100 BA voucher to be used via the original travel agent. deputy editor Guy Anker said: “BA’s slogan is ‘To Fly, To Serve’, but in this case it’s refusing to fly these passengers and is refusing to serve their best interests.

“They’ve bought these tickets in good faith at a believable price – it’s not as though the tickets cost £5, which would clearly have been a glitch. Many have budgeted accordingly and booked accommodation and now face big fees to go ahead with their holiday.

“While this may have been a ‘rare’ error, it’s not the passengers’ error. So come on BA – do the right thing and let them fly at the price they booked.”

A BA spokeswoman told MoneySavingExpert the fares were loaded into a system in error and were “quickly identified” and withdrawn. She confirmed the problem has only affected travellers who booked via third-party sites, rather than direct with the airline.

She said the fares were to a number of Middle East destinations but was unable to say which, or how many passengers have been affected.

BA claimed the incorrect fares were only on sale for a few hours overnight, but was unable to give an exact date.

Third-party site TravelUp has claimed on Twitter they were available between 5.45pm on June 11 and 11am on June 12.

A BA spokeswoman told Travel Weekly: “We’ve contacted the small number of travel agents who were able to access the incorrect fare for the short period it was available to advise them and apologise.

“We are fully refunding the tickets that were booked.”