So Exactly What is an Airline Mistake Fare?
A mistake fare is an airline ticket that is priced significantly lower than its usual price due to an error made by the airline or travel booking site. Mistake fares usually occur because of currency exchange rate errors, codesharing errors, computer/technical glitches, fuel surcharge glitches, or simply human error.
Mistake fares are usually available only for a short period of time. The airline or travel booking site often catches the error and corrects the price rather quickly. If you are lucky enough to find and book a mistake fare before it’s corrected, you can often save quite a bit of money on your trip.
It’s also important to note that mistake fares are not always honored by the airlines. Some airlines or travel agencies may end up canceling your booking or telling you that you need to pay additional fees in order to keep the booking.
Incase you are interested, here are reasons why mistake fares are so awesome!
Types of Mistake Fares:
Currency Conversion Errors:
Airlines may accidentally convert the price of a ticket to a different currency incorrectly. This can result in a minor or significant price difference.
Sometimes the airlines or travel agencies will enter the wrong discount code for a specific flight, which results in a large discount that is not supposed to be there.
Mistake fares can be caused by human error, for example, typing in the wrong discount code, entering incorrect prices, or entering incorrect routing information.
Fuel Surcharge Errors:
Some airlines add fuel surcharges to their tickets. If the calculation is done correctly or if the person incorrectly applies them to the flight, then there will be a price discrepancy.
Sometimes airlines partner with each other and sell tickets on the same flight. Mistakes can be made in this process which may potentially result in mistake fares.
Can I Find Mistake Fares By Myself?
Yes, in general, you may be able to find mistake fares by browsing travel forums or blogs, using price comparison tools such as Google, Kayak, or Skyscanner, looking for some price drops, or tracking flight price changes over time. But honestly, I don’t recommend this option. It can be incredibly time-consuming and often turn up no results for your desired destination.
I recommend spending a small amount of money on a membership at a mistake fare company, such as the Dollar Flight Club. Let their trained professionals and algorithms do the work for you.
After Booking a Mistake Fare, Can Airlines Cancel It?
Yes, sometimes airlines will cancel bookings made after they realize it was a mistake fare. Most airlines have a clause in their terms and conditions that allow them to cancel their booking with you if they determine that it was a mistake. In that case, you would be refunded the amount that you paid.
In other cases, airlines may also contact passengers to offer them the option to rebook the same flight, but pay the cost difference between the mistake fare and the normal price.
It’s always a good idea to have a backup plan just in case your airline calls you to reschedule, or they suddenly cancel your booking.
Based on some estimates, around 70% of airlines honor the mistake fare that they sold you. The main reasons are that it takes time and money to fix the problem (they need to pay their employees and transaction fees), so the company often simply ignores the mistake and absorbs the loss.
Do’s & Don’ts of Buying Mistake Fares
If you see a mistake fare and you are interested in it, book it immediately! Don’t wait! Really good mistake fares do not last more than a few hours. If you are lucky enough to find one on your own, book it right away!
Do not call the airline and ask them if it is a mistake fare or not. There’s a good chance that they will tell you it is a mistake, and that you cannot book it. If you do book it, they will most likely cancel your booking and refund your money. If you notify the company about their mistake, they will try to correct it as quickly as possible. It’s usually best to simply just book it and hope that they don’t notice.
How Often Do Airlines Make Mistake Fares?
Mistake fares are relatively rare, considering that airlines and online travel websites are constantly updating and changing their pricing. Airlines and online travel agents are becoming more sophisticated, making it more difficult to find mistake fares. That’s why, to have the best chance of finding them, you should get on the mailing list of a mistake fare company.
It’s not possible to predict how often mistake fares will occur. Just keep an eye out for them.
Mistake Fares Don’t Last Long
As previously mentioned, if you see a mistake fare that you want, then buy it immediately! Some mistake fares last only for a couple of hours, and others last for a couple of days. Some companies have systems to help detect the mistake, and others don’t. Some never detect the mistake.
How Much Can You Save With Mistake Fares?
The amount you can save with a mistake fare varies widely, and it largely depends on the original starting price. On average, mistake fares can offer savings of 40-90% off the regular price. That’s crazy!
Mistake fare companies such as GOING report an average member savings of $550 for an economy flight! That’s pretty impressive!
How Do I Book Mistake Airfare?
Book them in the same way you would with any other airline ticket. Remember, the key is that when you see them, do not call and ask the airline if it is a mistake or not. Just simply book it. And then after you book it, have a backup plan, just in case the flight is canceled by the airline.