Mistakes Fares Are Fair Game and This Is How You Find Them

Dec 19, 2017

How are we to know the difference between a “mistake fare” and a “great sale”? The airline offers a product, and we buy it. For this reason, mistake fares are fair game. They can happen due to human error, currency conversions gone wrong or the miscalculation of fuel surcharges and fees. At any rate, this product is offered at a reduced cost, which is advantageous for the consumer.

There was once a time when you would go into a travel agency to book your flights and make your other travel arrangements. Or you’d go to the airport to buy a ticket for a flight. Our world has shifted away from face-to-face human contact and turned into an electronic world. You can purchase a ticket, check in, go through security and board a plane without saying one word to another human being. Corporations make more money this way. Their computer systems tell us the cost of a ticket, and we decide to buy it. If you were searching for a business-class ticket between Los Angeles and Tokyo and the ticket was $9,000 yesterday, you may have decided to think a bit more about making that purchase. Today, you see the exact same ticket for $1,500, so you purchase it immediately with a travel credit card that earns a bonus for airline purchases, reaping even more benefits.

There are many mistake fares out there. Wondering how to find them?

Finding Mistake Fares

The best way to find mistake fares is through the professionals. There are companies out there that find the cheapest airfare, sometimes mistake fares, and will tell you about it. These deals don’t last long and are sometimes corrected within hours. You can follow these experts on Twitter or Facebook or through an email subscription. The best way to get instant notifications is through Twitter push-feeds. You can follow Twitter a account and, in your settings, set it up to have it “push to your phone.” These notifications show up like text messages so you can scan them even when you are doing other things, like working at your full-time job. Who are these experts, and what are the best accounts to follow?

  • Secret Flying @SecretFlying
  • The Flight Deal @TheFlightDeal
  • The Fare Deal Alert @FareDealAlert

Airfare Watchdog (@airfarewatchdog) and SkyScanner (@skyscanner) are websites that offer a price-tracking system. If you're looking for a specific flight, these sites will send you an email when the flight you're considering drops in price.


You Found a Great Deal -- Now What?

If you have found a mistake fare you want to book, what should you do? Book it. Most airlines have a 24-hour cancellation policy at no cost. Always check the cancellation terms and conditions before booking. Do not call the airline and tell them you found a first-class ticket online for $850 roundtrip from Los Angeles to Singapore. Just book it. The odds are in your favor that your first-class ticket will be honored. Tickets can be canceled by the airline, but that happens in a minority of cases. If it is canceled, your charge will be refunded, and no harm was done. You will want to wait a few days until your confirmation is ticketed before making any other travel arrangements. The mistake fare will eventually be resolved by the airline.

Bottom Line

Mistake fares are fair game in today’s digital age. There are experts finding them for you. Follow them via social media and act quickly. The fares won’t last long. Cancellation policies are typically in your favor for the first 24 hours after booking. Don’t call the airline -- it’s working to increase the cost of your ticket while you wait on the phone.

Johnny Jet is a travel blogger and expert who travels up to 150,000 miles and visits 20 countries every year. For more travel tips from Johnny, visit his blog.

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