Everything You Want to Know About Error Fares

Wondering what in the world an error fare is and how it can help you save money? Read this to learn everything you want to know about error fares and start saving money today! | https://passportandplates.com

I’ve already told you my favorite hacks on finding cheap airfare. But, if you’ve been following me on Facebook lately (and you should!), you’ve seen that I’ve been talking a lot about airline error fares. I’ve known about them for a good year or so now but never actually booked one until recently. I managed to score a round-trip summer flight from Los Angeles to Barcelona for under $600. Flights aren’t even that cheap during the off-season, so I was more than stoked. Side note: I’m spending the summer in Valencia, eeek!


So how did I book this amazing deal? It was an error fare. Everything you want to know about airline error fares is this post!


What are airline error fares?

Essentially, an error fare is exactly what it sounds like. Although computers often times calculate fares, real humans are the ones that put them online. Sometimes they mistype the fare. Sometimes they forget to add in a hefty tax or fuel charge. Sometimes it’s actually a computer glitch. Whatever the case may be, it results in some unbelievable flight deals going live for people to book.


Where do you find them?

Lucky for you, you don’t have to find airline error fares yourself. You just have to keep an eye out on several websites that report them. There are lots, but my favorite hands down is Secret Flying. They’re usually really quick about posting the airline error fares and they offer directions on which sites to use to find them. Other good ones are Travel Pirates, Airfarespot, and The Flight Deal. You can subscribe to their newsletters, but I find that the best thing to do is to follow them on Facebook and star the pages to “show first”.


What are the rules?

There are two rules to booking an error fare. The first is DON’T call the airline. Seriously. Once you call them, you’ll alert them to the error and they will immediately correct it. Don’t be that person.

The second rule: book it ASAP. Airlines and booking websites figure out that something’s wrong pretty quickly when they get a surge of abnormal traffic to their sites. Sometimes it takes a few minutes to get the error corrected and other times it takes hours. But either way, airline error fares disappear fast. If you find a deal going to place you like, make a decision quickly and book it.


What’s the catch?

There is one catch to error fares: there is a small chance the website or airline will not honor the fare. If they decide not to honor it, your flight gets cancelled and refunded. No harm, no foul. Just be sure to book with a credit card to facilitate cancellation. If they do decide to honor the fare (you’ll know because you’ll get that second email with an e-ticket number) then lucky you! You just scored a great deal! Just remember: it can take up to 24 hours to get your confirmation email. Be patient. Feel free to call the booking website if you don’t receive anything after 48 hours and the deal is definitely over. Just do NOT call them once you’ve booked or in the first 24 hours.


Anything else?

Don’t book any nonrefundable hotels, rental cars, or tours until you get your flight confirmation. Remember, the first email you get from the booking site is not your final confirmation. Once you get your e-ticket, feel free to book other items to your heart’s desire.


And for those of you that still have your doubts, let me reassure you that this is legitimate. I wouldn’t have written about it if I hadn’t tested it myself. Happy flying!

READ NEXT:  These 14 Tips Will Help You Pick a Good Airbnb Every Time


Have you ever scored an error fare? Share your best flight deal and / or any questions you might have in the comments below!

Wondering what in the world airline error fares are and how they can help you save money? Read this to learn everything you want to know about error fares and start saving money today! | https://passportandplates.com
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P.S. Looking for even more way to save money? Check out Nomadic Matt’s Guide to Traveling When You Have No Money.

32 thoughts on “Everything You Want to Know About Error Fares

  1. The Travel Sista says:

    I’m always looking for an error fare. I haven’t tried Travel Pirates yet, so thanks for the heads up.

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      No problem! Keep a lookout! Secret Flying is my favorite but you never know which one you’ll get success with.

  2. Brianna says:

    Thanks for sharing this! I check Secret Flying every week, and it makes me nervous to see their “WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU DELAY MAKING FURTHER PLANS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.”
    But it’s nice to know that nothing bad really happens other than having your flight cancelled and money refunded.

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      Hahah I know, I think they just don’t want to be held liable for whatever people decide to do. But yeah, as long as you book with a credit card they’ll cancel and refund! And if the charge doesn’t go through then that’s also your answer. 🙂

  3. bc21578 says:

    I’ve never had that happen, but I’ll let you know. Never heard of those sites before, but I’m liking them on FB. Thanks and enjoy BCN!!

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      Hope you found the post to be useful then! I’m definitely excited to have saved money on this flight…thank you 🙂

  4. Christina says:

    I have never run into an error fare yet that I can take advantage of. Thanks for the links, will bookmark them for future use. Have fun in Barcelona!

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      It’s definitely a challenge and requires super quick decisions! I sometimes see amazing deals I can’t take advantage of, which hurts a bit. But keep checking and you never know! Thank you 🙂

  5. We Travel Together says:

    I’ve heard about error fares and got some tips but never had the chance to take advantage of them. Will definitely check out the pages and follow them on Facebook. Who doesn’t want a great deal, huh? Thanks for sharing such an informative post!

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      Glad you found it useful! Yes, definitely keep a lookout – you never know when the right deal might strike 🙂

  6. Lara Dunning says:

    Wow, I’ve never heard of this. I’m going to start following the sites you suggested. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Arzo Travels says:

    I would love to book it when I see it. But I am sure the airline will not honor it, so I do not even try 🙁 This post, however, motivates me to still try it though 🙂

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      Haha I know, I wasn’t sure either and was pleasantly surprised! Airlines even honored this insane Los Angeles -> NZ deal for less than $300 so it can’t hurt to try! 🙂

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      Keep a lookout! I coincidentally found this error fare the week after I was looking at flights (but hadn’t booked because prices were high). You just have to be uber flexible. Good luck!

  8. Caroline Luong says:

    UMMM THANK YOU FOR THIS AMAZING POST! I figured something like this existed, but I had no idea there was a terminology for it! I must have gotten an error fare too… I was able to get my multi-city ticket from San Diego to Miami and then to NOLA all for under 350! I’m excited to visit Miami again, and as I mentioned to you, visit NOLA and eat my way through the city! 🙂 Thank you for your sweet reply, by the way! You completely made my day with your response. And thank you so much for providing information about the error fares, I’m going to check out those websites as soon as I post this comment! Have a great evening 🙂


    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      You’re welcome! I’m glad you found it useful! That must have been an error fare or some sort of crazy deal because that is SO cheap. Usually I find LA>NOLA for around $300 on a good day. So excited to see your NOLA post and bookmark some of the places you visit :). And of course, reach out anytime. Have a good day!

  9. Caroline Luong says:

    p.s. I just checked out Secret Flying… I feel like I owe you my life now. Now I know what site I’ll be religiously stalking all weekend (Google Flights is practically my homepage). THANK YOU!

  10. Lauren @ atipsygypsylife.com says:

    God bless you! Seriously trying to get me and my partner to Argentina this summer for under $1,000 from San Diego/LA. Wish me luck!

    • Sally E says:

      Good luck! I’ve seen some flight deals in the past to Argentina (or at least to other bordering countries in South America). I know it’s notoriously pricey though, I’ve done it myself :(. Enjoy!

  11. The Hopeful Traveler says:

    Oh man, this is really helpful. I always wondered about these fares and how people found them! Now the only problem is trying NOT to spend money I don’t have on every new flight I see, haha!

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      Glad you found it helpful!
      LOL I know that is the eternal struggle. I had to restrain myself from buying a flight to Australia twice now…not sure I’ll be strong enough to resist a third!

  12. Laia says:

    This is so great, thanks for sharing! I recently heard about error fares for the first time, but didn’t know where to find them.
    I’ll check them! 🙂

  13. Danielle Wolter says:

    I’m so glad I found this post! I am definitely going to use this for my next trip. Good way to choose where your next trip will be too 🙂

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