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The Ultimate Guide to Mistake Fares - The Ultra-Ultimate Discounted Tickets

I was in Taipei visiting my family and on the way back at Taipei Taoyuan Airport, these fares got on my radar. Luckily, I was able to snatch one for our summer visit back to Asia before it got pulled... See for yourself...

Mistake fares are just what they sound like. For one reason or another, airlines sometimes sell tickets at a cheaper price than they intended. If you see a plane ticket that looks too good to be true, it’s probably a mistake fare. Mistake fare can be for economy class, premium economy, business, or even first!

These often involve an error with converting different currencies. Sometimes, it can be as simple as an employee hitting the wrong number or missing a zero as they enter a fare.

Travel is expensive - but these fares lower the cost down QUITE A BIT! I understand that these mistake fares might still sound high - but if you have to travel from a place to another, monitoring those "mistake fares" might be worth it since you will have to pay the fare eventually - mistake or not - and there might somehow conveniently be a mistake fare on your intended itinerary...

(Australian Frequent Flyer)

Airlines have gotten better and better at detecting their mistakes quickly – or catching them before they’re published. They’re also one of the few ways to snag a barnburner deal on business or first class plane tickets. Competition for top-dollar customers is so tight and so motivated by big money, airlines rarely sell those seats at huge discounts.

How Do I Find Mistake Fares?

By their very nature, mistake fares are unpredictable. You could scour the internet for hours on end every day and not find one of these insanely cheap mistake fares. THEY DON'T COME EVERYDAY. Maybe not even every year. But one way to know these steals when they do come out is to subscribe to some blogs (like ours!) where they will update the latest news on such deals!

How Do I Book Mistake Fares?


There’s no telling how long a mistakenly discounted fare will be on sale before it’s pulled. It varies by how good the deal is – and how long the airline takes to catch its mistake. If you want to get the best deal, act fast!

We’ve seen some of the best mistake fares disappear within minutes of going on sale. A mistake fare from Miami (MIA) to Fortaleza, Brazil for an astounding $132 disappeared less than 30 minutes after we first saw it. Others have lasted close to an entire day or longer. Long story short, you can’t count on that insane flight deal sticking around for long.

Qatar Airways - please release a Qsuites mistake fare... please?

So if you see a great mistake fare here or elsewhere on the internet, book now and ask questions later. If it turns out you can’t use the cheap ticket you just bought, you have 24 hours to cancel it for a full refund. The U.S. government requires this refund policy, so use it.

But there’s also a chance the airline won’t even honor the fare (more on this in a bit). So just as important as booking the fare fast is to not book anything else. Don’t pay for any hotels, tours, excursions, rental cars, or other pieces of your vacation until you know your ticket is confirmed. It can take anywhere from a day to two weeks or more for airlines to notify ticket holders whether their ticket is confirmed.

It may seem counterintuitive, but after buying your ticket on impulse, be patient and see what happens. (I know it's hard!)

Will the Airline Honor These Fares?

Unfortunately, it’s a mixed bag. The U.S. government no longer requires airlines to honor the mistake tickets they sell if they can prove the pricing was offered due to an error. Airlines can cancel the fare so long as they fully refund the cost of the ticket.

Ultimately, it’s largely the airline’s choice whether to honor these fares. And that’s never a sure thing.

But on the bright side...

1. Hong Kong Airlines Asia Fare: In what would have been the mistake fare of the year, Hong Kong Airlines sold $560 round-trip tickets in business class from Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) to Bangkok (BKK), Shanghai (PVG), and Ho Chi Minh (SGN). These tickets normally cost close to $6,000 or more. And yet the airline decided to honor the tickets.

2. Cathay Pacific Vietnam Fare: At $675 for round-trip business class and roughly $1,000 for first class from Vietnam to US, these fares were insane. I expected Cathay to cancel them, and I know I’m not alone. But within 2 days of the "sale", Cathay announced they would honor the tickets.

But still, a large portion of those fares are cancelled - that’s the life of a mistake fare flyer. The only thing you can do is wait and see – and hope...

Best of luck!!!

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