Flytrippers’ specialty is spotting half-priced flight deals every day. And almost all of them are just great deals, in other words, they are simply good sales and good discounts offered for a variety of reasons. But there is another type of deal that is very rare: Error fares (or mistake fares).
The recent deal from Montreal to Dubai for just $190 roundtrip and the transatlantic flights to Europe in the $100s roundtrip we spotted in the past were error fares.
Here is everything you need to know about error fares.
Basics of error fares
In case you don’t know our flight deals, even though the price is really low (often 50% off the “normal” price)… in 99% of cases, these ridiculously low prices are discounts offered voluntarily by airlines, for various reasons.
But in the case of error fares, it is exactly what the name says: It’s an error. They are sometimes called mistake fares too.
These are very rare.
In these cases, the airline publishes a flight at a price it doesn’t want to publish. It’s very different. A human mistake, a computer problem… whatever the cause, it’s an error.
These prices are too low and aren’t supposed to be there.
And it’s completely random and unpredictable.
Obviously, since there aren’t many of these error fares and they vanish pretty quickly, they are easy to miss, so read our 4 tips to make sure you don’t miss out on these error fares.
4 important rules for error fares
These are very special deals, so there are a few important rules to know about and to abide by:
- Do NOT call the airline (!!!)
- Book quickly (even more than usual)
- Don’t have any expectations (it might not be honored)
- Don’t book anything else for a few weeks (to be safe)
1. Do NOT call the airline (!!!)
The most obvious rule.
Please, whatever you do… don’t call the airline. It’s a mistake price… if you tell them about it, not only will they not let you buy it… but they will also fix the mistake and you’ll have ruined the deal for everyone.
Book online and do not contact the airline at all (or the booking sites, for the exact same reasons).
I really don’t understand why some people call the airline… just book it, that’s it.
2. Book quickly (even more than usual)
If you visit our flight deals page regularly, you already know that all the deals we spot only last for a very limited time. All deals, not just error fares.
But the better the deal is, the faster it expires. So with error fares, you have to book even more quickly.
Usually, error fares are gone in a matter of an hour or two, often less. Airlines are pretty quick to notice errors that cost them a lot of money—and quick to correct them.
So don’t wait too long to book online, or else you’ll miss out. Be ready to book with these 2 easy tips.
3. Don’t have any expectations (it might not be honored)
See it as a potential trip that will be extremely cheap… or worst-case scenario, you’ll just get your money back. If it works, great… a really low price! And if it doesn’t (which is rare)… well you didn’t lose anything and just need to find something else. That’s it!
To be clear, if the airline doesn’t honor the ticket, they’ll provide you with a refund to your original form of payment. So it’s risk-free.
Even though the airline will honor the tickets sold at the wrong price in a majority of cases, there is always a chance they will simply cancel the ticket to avoid losses.
(Air Canada did that with one of their major error fares recently. Legally, it’s not quite clear whether airlines can really renege on a contract they agreed to with the ticket purchase, but that’s a whole other topic.)
Seriously, when you book an error fare quickly, your payment will most likely go through quite normally, and you’ll get your ticket confirmation. And everything will be fine.
But it is not 100% sure, unlike when you buy a normal deal or a normal plane ticket, so just lower your expectations and don’t assume that it’s a done deal for a short while…
4. Don’t book anything else for a few weeks (to be safe)
We recommend not making other plans until about 2 weeks just to be prudent.
Delay booking your hotel, rental car, activities, or anything else a little bit just to make sure the airline doesn’t cancel your ticket and leave you stuck paying cancelation fees for other things.
Since there’s really no use in booking anything else right away, err on the side of caution and wait.
Unless of course you book hotels that are fully refundable, as most are anyways.
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Basically, these error fares are quite rare… but when they come up, it can be an even better bargain than all our other deals. Now that you know what it’s all about, follow Flytrippers to make sure you don’t miss the next error fare so you can save a lot of money.
What would you like to know about error fares? Tell us in the comments below.
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Featured image: Airplane (image credit: Johan Van Wambeke)
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