Thousands of people around the world received a mysterious email from Continental Airlines last week when the airline sent a pre-flight bulletin in error.
The personalised email suggested that as a passenger due to fly with the airline they will need to obtain electronic travel authorisation (the ESTA scheme) from the United States Department of Homeland Security.
The email went on to explain how the system works and looked forward to welcoming the recipient onboard.
Unfortunately anybody included in the Continental database from any of the 35 countries on the US's Visa Waiver scheme, including the UK, Australia, France and Spain, received the bulletin.
This included those without any scheduled tickets with the airline and those who have only used the airline as part of a codeshare agreement with partner carriers.
The mistake was corrected five hours later when recipients of the original email were sent an apology ensuring them "contact information has not been affected and that you were not intended to receive that e-mail".
Continental has since admitted the mistake and said extra checks are now in place to prevent the same error occurring again.
An officials says:
"The message was to go to customers scheduled on upcoming flights yet it was inadvertently sent to all customers in our database that reside in visa waiver countries and who had previously given us their contact info. We realize this was confusing to customers, especially those who didn’t have upcoming travel scheduled, and have apologized."