Error Fares: Learning the secrets that airlines wouldn’t want you to know to save you hundreds
Imagine browsing through the internet one night, having a couple of tabs open, maybe you decide to take a little look at that trip to New York you’ve been wanting to take to for a while now. You open up another tab. Then you type in ‘New York’ and see that a seven-night stay right in the city centre has gone down from six-seven hundred pounds to two hundred. What would you do?
Of course, you’d waste no time and reach for your wallet! At the same time, you would be questioning why this trip that you’ve been eyeing for years has suddenly reduced so much. Allow me to introduce you to the beauty of Error Fares.
What Are Error Fares?
I’m sure you could probably guess…error fares simply means what it’s titled. The travel industry is one of the busiest sectors and let’s face it, we’re all human. Mistakes happen all the time. Although in this digitally driven generation, everything is calculated using sophisticated software; airfares are still driven by humans. Which means, one miss of a zero digit could cost a company hundreds but save you just as much.
Believe it or not, error fares happen all the time. For example, in 2007, while typing in fare from San Francisco to Aukland, New Zealand return, the employee missed a zero so a trip that would have cost USD 15,000 instead displayed as USD 1,500.
Why Do Error Fares Happen?
- Human error – These fares happen when employees accidentally publish a typo. For example, a tired worker that publishes a flight for £100 instead of £1,000.
- Computer glitches – Sometimes, although these are rarer occasions, computer glitches lead to mistakes in the airfares. For example, in 2013, due to a computer glitch, an airline sold a return ticket from the USA to Hawaii for USD 7.
- Currency conversion mistake – Error prices can be the result of a currency conversion mistake, e.g if an employee accidentally publishes a price in the wrong currency.
How Can I Find Mistake Fares?
The trick to bagging yourself a cheeky holiday that costs close to nothing is to follow the experts.
- Secret flying is a great resource for finding worldwide pricing errors. The site is updated daily so you can get there first before anyone else.
- Airfare watchdog has a team of hunters that will find these error fares and post straight to their blog so make sure you check regularly.
- The Flight Deal is another great resource for finding a great mistake fare.
- Fly4free searches the best deals including mistake fares and shares them with you daily.
What To Do When You Find An Error Fare?
BOOK IT! If you’re after a hot deal and you see one that appeals to you, the general rule here is to book it as soon as possible. Don’t even think about it! Grab your credit card and go. Pricing error fares can last for several days. Usually, the best ones are gone in a couple of hours. Don’t worry if you’re unsure of your dates. Most airlines have a 24-hour penalty-free cancellation period so you’re safe if your dates don’t work.
An important thing to remember here is to NOT call up the airline asking for a confirmation or ask them to honour the error fare as the mistake will eventually be resolved and airlines have the right to take it away from you. So keep quiet or you’ll end up kicking yourself.
What Rights Do I Have If My Error Fare Booking Is Cancelled?
Every individual situation is different and unfortunately, there is no fixed legislation involved to say that the airline has to honour this fare if it’s mistakenly priced. It’s pretty much all down to which airline or provider you’re booking with. There have been many examples of error fares as well as there have been cancellations. For example, United Airlines were offering tickets from London to Newark for $50, all because of a currency conversion error. However, after discovering the mistake fare, the airline voided all payments and bookings and refused to accept the fares due to people “taking advantage of the situation.” So before you rush into booking your hotel with this error fare, wait until you’re certain that it’s safe to do so.