Mistake fares are simply when airlines publish incorrect ticket prices like $249 roundtrip from New York City to New Zealand. They're great for us, but not so much for the airlines.
Here's all you need to know about them:
Why Do Mistake Fares Happen?
Mistake Fares can happen for a few reasons. Overall, airlines and Online Travel Agents (OTA’s) operate on a very complex backend booking system, so errors occuring now and again are inevitable. While some are technical errors, others are simply human error.
Simple Human error: It very well may be that a $1308 round trip flight from Boston to Cape Town was actually priced at $130 round trip. Someone omitted or added a number in error when entering a flight price, which can result in a significantly reduced ticket until the error is found by the airlines and corrected.
OTA Glitches/ Omitting fuel surcharges & fees: Online Travel Agencies (OTA) are often behind these Mistake Fares. Missing fuel surcharges are often why we see prices so reduced. Fuel surcharges are in place to prevent frequent flyer programs from allowing people to book 100% free tickets using miles (as you still pay these additional fees). Every now and then though, these charges may be dropped by mistake. Fuel surcharges can make up hundreds of dollars on some airlines.
Currency conversion errors: When moving from currency to currency, things can get tricky when you’re working with such complex systems. For example. a $4,000 United Airlines flight was available for around $79 recently. This specific Mistake Fare occured due to a miscalculation between the Danish Kroner and British Pound.
Some of the best Mistake Fares we’ve sent to members:
- San Francisco to New Zealand for $260 round trip.
- New York City to Ivory Coast for $318 round trip.
- Houston to Melbourne for $184 round trip.
- Business Class from US cities to Lima, Peru for $450 roundtrip
- East & West Coast US to India for $244 Round Trip
What to do if you find a mistake fare:
- Book the flight as soon as possible! Mistake Fares can last less than a few hours before the airline corrects the error.
- Wait a week or so before you book other travel plans like hotels and tourist activities until the airline confirms your ticket. More recently, airlines are no longer required to honor mistake fares like they were required to in the past. That being said, 90% of Mistake Fares do get honored. Airlines don’t want any bad PR by rescinding flights from customers.
- Enjoy your trip.