How to Find Mistake Fares


A mistake fare is an airline ticket that pops up on-line that is much cheaper than it should be. It is not a promotion or sale… it is an actual mistake. Mistake fares happen for a variety of reasons such as technical glitches or human errors (e.g., typos, incorrect currency conversions, forgetting to add fuel charges and fees). They appear and disappear very quickly – usually a matter of hours. Finding one can be like searching for a needle in a haystack.

The best mistake fare that Boomer Traveller nabbed was to Easter Island for $300 (from Mexico City – which we used frequent flyer points to get to). Best. Trip. Ever.

The best places to find mistake fares (and great deals!)

A few key sites to keep your eye on:

You can constantly check and recheck these sites, subscribe to their instant alerts, or follow them on Twitter or Facebook (we know many Boomers don’t much use these tools – but really in this case it is worth making the technological leap).

FlyerTalk Mileage Run Forums is perhaps the best resource to find mistake fares – but it takes significant time to learn how to navigate.

The steps to follow when you find a mistake fare that speaks to you

  • Book it right away (or you will miss out; note most airlines have a 24 hour cancellation clause)
  • Not all mistake fares are honoured* (but most are). Wait until you have confirmation that you have been ticketed (usually by email with a ticket number) – this can take a couple of days. You can also call the airline to verify after you have been ticketed that it will be honored (get the agent’s name, just in case).
  • Do not book accommodations etc. until you are sure you have been ticketed.

* If a mistake fare doesn’t get honoured, you’ll often be given the option to purchase it at the intended price, or get a refund.

Boomers are probably thinking… is this legal? (yes it is), will the airline treat me like a second class citizen? (no they will not).

Happy searching!

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