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Authored by Jesse Neugarten

Imagine this: you’re scrolling through Facebook or swiping through your Instagram stories and you see one of your friends bragging about how they just booked a flight from D.C to New Zealand for $327 roundtrip.

You do a double take and wonder “How did they do it? Are fares that low even possible?”

They are indeed, and that’s what you call a mistake fare.

Mistake fares are exactly that – a mistake. It’s when airlines publish incorrect ticket prices like this $327 roundtrip from Washington D.C to New Zealand. They’re great for us as travelers, but not so much for the airlines.

Wondering how to catch these elusive fares? Here is everything you need to know about them if you want to visit your dream destinations for cheap.

How to Score Mistake Fares; They’re the Cheapest Flights You’ll Ever Find!

WAS – NZ for $327 Return

How to find mistake and error fares

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 occurring 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 $1,308 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 occurred due to a miscalculation between the Danish Kroner and British Pound.

San Fran to London for $267 Return

How to find mistake and error fares

Some of the Best Mistake Fares We’ve Ever Seen

Best Error Fares We've Ever Seen

➡ 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

How to Find a Mistake Fare

Keep an eye on Google FlightsMomondo and Skyscanner daily to see if prices fluctuate significantly.

If you’d rather not spend those hours, sign up for cheap flight finding services like Dollar Flight Club, who do all the searching for you and send deals right to your inbox.

It’s incredibly important to book the flight as soon as possible if you do find an error. Mistake Fares can last less than a few hours before the airline discovers it and makes a correction.

And it’s a good idea to a week or so before you book other travel plans like hotels and tourist activities until the airline confirms your ticket.

Airlines are no longer legally required to honor mistake fares like they were required to in the past. But that being said, 90% of Mistake Fares are honored. Airlines don’t want any bad PR by rescinding flights from customers.

Lastly, enjoy your trip and brag about it on Instagram!

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Jesse is the founder & Chief Flight Finder at Dollar Flight Club; a team of travel loving, cheap flight hacking humans that love finding and sharing cheap flights with their 500,000 members.

    22 Comments

  1. Ah I swear I hear about these all the time but never find them myself. Oh well, good information. I’ll check out the club, if someone’s willing to email me instead of me checking my phone every hour that sounds great. Cheers.

    • Dollar Flight Club is great for receiving alerts if you find you can’t stay on top of it or catch them yourselves 🙂 Hope you have luck!!

    • Hey Dominick! Definitely check us out! We have a 7day free trial if you’d like to get a taste of the goods!

      -Jesse

  2. I got a £1 flight from the UK to Belfast once. It was about 11 years ago now, and then there were £15 in airport taxes on top of the fare, but it was pretty fab! Easyjet, I don’t think it was a mistake fare, I think it was a special they were running, I don’t know if they still run those anymore though.

    • That’s awesome Sherry! I’ve always been so jealous of those who live in the UK and Europe for access to low cost carriers like Easyjet – those fares are truly awesome!

  3. This ever happen in business class?

    • Hi Gary, absolutely, mistake fares happen across all classes 🙂

    • Hi Gary! This definitely does happen in business class! However, it’s just not as common.

      Our team is always on the lookout.

      You can give us a try if you’d like with a free trial – https://dollarflightclub.com/

      I’m here if you have any questions!

  4. This is really useful article, thank you for sharing mam.

    • You’re welcome Stephen, I’m glad it was helpful 🙂

  5. The problem with a lot of those fares is that they are available when I am not. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t find a way to take advantage of them.
    I plan to try and avail myself of these fares once I recover from this rash of travel I’ve effected over the month of July (and extending through August).

    • Definitely not the type of fare you have a lot of flexibility with, it’s one of those take it or leave it type of deals.

      Hopefully there’ll be one that matches with your timing and travel plans soon!

  6. can you suggest other companies for business class tickets? when you cant sit in a small seat any longer and NOT leave a cripple, business class seats at a ‘price’ is important. Otherwise I have to take a ship across the Atlantic or the Pacific

    • HI Lee!

      You can take a peek at Secretflying.com, who do publish business class tickets now and again.

      Also, ur team is always on the lookout for Biz/First class flights.

      You can give us a try if you’d like with a free trial – https://dollarflightclub.com/

      I’m here if you have any questions!

  7. Have you also heard of Push App and also Fly4Free? Fly4free is another that sends out messages based on error fares/listings etc for holidays as well.

    Push App actually allows you to add a heap of site notifications into it to send you push notifications immediately as the errors are published (well, when they are known). You can customise it for alerts based on destinations you want to see it for etc too.

    As you know, you have to be fast though before they are updated and corrected by whoever published the price like that.

    • Thanks for the tips Sam, I’ll check both out 🙂

  8. I got BCN-EWR r/t for 112€ for next months 🙂

    • That’s an awesome deal Kailos – have a fab trip!

  9. Amazing Jessie and Meg, Amazing. Non-mistake fare from Auckland to NYC a few months ago at over 5 bills. Not bad for legit flying. Mistakes are even more eye-popping though, per your NZ-US flight above which is bananas. Kelli always spots inspired prices and we gobble up, with all the short and long haul flights these days. Although now I just pay $3 per NYC Subway visit in Manhattan 😉

    Ryan

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Ryan! The NZ-US rate they found is definitely bananas – that’s a good word for it :D!

  10. I hardly comment, however I browsed a lot of responses here How to Score Mistake Fares; They're the Cheapest Flights You'll Ever Find!.
    I do have questions for you if you don’t mind.
    And, if you are writing at additional online social sites, I’d
    like to keep up with you. Could you make a list of all
    of your public sites like your linkedin profile, Facebook page
    or twitter feed?

    • Hi Gayle, glad you enjoyed the post 🙂 Re our social profiles if you jump up to the top of the page you’ll find social media icons on the sidebar that link to our various platforms. I look forward to connecting 🙂

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