Mistake airfares do happen, resulting in super cheap tickets.
Yes, airlines and travel agents, too, sometimes make mistakes. Sometimes, their errors can end up being a colossal hassle for travelers; sometimes their errors can mean getting a super cheap airfare.
Mistake airfares happen. With the sheer amount of fares being published day in and day out, it is a statistical inevitability that some are going to get botched — which could mean the difference between paying $1,500 for a ticket and $150 (or less!).
How do mistake airfares happen?
Mistake airfares can happen for a number of reasons, and we’ll go through a few of the most likely ones below.
Human error: Someone working at an airline or online travel agent mistypes the price of a ticket, such as leaving off a zero at the end of a fare.
Currency conversion mishap: Every once in a while there is a hiccup on an airline’s currency conversions, and this can lead to airfares being listed for many times less than what they should be.
Technology glitch: The fare pricing algorithms at airlines or travel agencies can get scrambled and start producing pricing anomalies, such as $7 flights to Hawaii.
Leaving out surcharges: The breakdowns of airfare pricing is complicated for everybody, and one of the most common reasons for mistake fares is that the fuel surcharges were erroneously left out.
Communication: Every once in a while the flow of communication between an airline and an online travel agent can get messy — such as when talking about percentage discounts on certain flight routes or fare classes — and this can result in a steal for the astute air traveler.
How to find mistake airfares
- Look for them yourself: Yes, you can scan through massive amounts of published airfares looking for lower priced anomalies. Skyscanner even recommends using their service in such a way. All you need to do is enter in a search between two cities, select the “flexible” option for the dates, and scan through the prices they have listed for the entire month. Every once in a while an exceptionally low price will pop out.
- Set a price alert: Many airfare search sites allow users to set price alerts for chosen flight paths. So set one up and see if anything rolls in.
- Have someone else do it for you: Perhaps the best way to find mistake airfares is to subscribe to a service which runs collects and analyzes massive amounts of airfare data searching for low price anomalies. You can enter in your desired points of departure and destination and then the service will immediately ping you when a mistake fare pops up. One such service, Mighty Travels Premium, even allows you to target entire zones of the planet to constantly be scanned for mistake fares.
What to do when you find a mistake airfare
- Act fast: As mistake fares are … well, mistakes, they will quickly be corrected once identified by airlines or online travel agencies. So this isn’t something that you can sit around and mull over. If you find a mistake fare, buy it right away. As most airlines offer a 24-hour free cancellation period (mandated by law in the USA), you can buy mistake fares immediately and then think about if you’re actually able / want to go to wherever it’s sending you.
Oh yeah, and don’t tell the airline if you found a mistake fare. Just buy it and act like everything was business as usual — get on the plane and just smugly smile to yourself that you are flying for way less money than everybody else.
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