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Get yourself a mistake fare and you’ll feel like you’re flying for free

cheap flights

The seemingly illusive ‘mistake fare’ is when an airline unintentionally offers flights at incredibly low prices. Now, I’m not talking about a great discount, or killer deal – I’m talking about return flights… worldwide… for as low as 90% off the original price. Talk about an absolute steal!!

The Facts

These prices whilst incredible, are obviously not ideal for airlines and are made due to mistakes (hence the name) such as human or computing errors, fees accidentally being omitted or issues with currency conversions – a recent United Airlines flight was available for $79 instead of $4000 due to a miscalculation between the Danish Kroner and British Pound. As amazing as these deals are, they do carry risks as some airlines will cancel and refund the tickets, but don’t let this deter you as a surprising amount will honour them out of good faith or for publicity.

While it probably isn’t smart to get your hopes up or book these flights for important trips (like that dream vacay you’ve been saving your whole life for), they are the perfect excuse for a spontaneous or just cause adventure. As these budget prices come and go as quickly as you can refresh your web browser and are buried behind the millions of other flight offers, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled and get your hands on them ASAP. With that being said, here is what you need to know:

Scour the web

As mistake fares are gathering a reputation with them have come an abundance of websites and blogs – set up purely to be your go to mistake fare hunters. Companies such as Secret Flying, Airfare Watchdog, and Travel Pirates do the hard work for you by bringing together the deals and discounts into one place. Make nice with these websites and they’ll help you find the deals as soon as they happen. The trick here is to check them frequently – try bookmarking some top sites and checking in once a day.

Set up alerts and subscribe/follow/like

Remember those sites we just mentioned, get your stalk on and follow their every move for the best chance to get in on the deals. Sites such as Skyscanner let you set up alerts for price drops, and most mistake fare dedicated pages have email subscription lists that will deliver flight bargains straight to your inbox. Additionally, find these pages on social media, follow/like and turn on post notifications – this way you won’t miss any hot deals.

Do your research

For some mistake fares you’ll find it best to book directly with the airline, while others you’ll want to hit up third party sites. I know when you come across a mistake fare it can be tempting to go ahead and book within 10 seconds flat. However, you may be better off doing a quick search – check out other booking platforms and look at social media to see what is being said about the particular flight. This will ensure you are getting the very best deal and aren’t getting scammed.

A group of people shaking hands at a table during a negotiation for free flights.

What’s the difference?

But, how do you know if you’ve come across a mistake fare or just a ridiculously good deal? As they are not always easy to distinguish we say the most obvious clue will come from the airline’s advertising. If they are openly advertising the price, chances are it’s a deal rather than a mistake fare.

Look, at the end of the day the worst that can happen is the airline cancels your flight and you get a full refund and maybe even a cheeky bonus credit, so really, what do you have to lose? We do recommend putting off booking any non-refundable expenses for at least a week or until you’ve got your booking reference and confirmation, and don’t forget to double, triple check your itinerary online before you get all the way to the airport.