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!
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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.
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!
Have you ever scored an error fare? Share your best flight deal and / or any questions you might have in the comments below!
P.S. Looking for even more way to save money? Check out Nomadic Matt’s Guide to Traveling When You Have No Money.