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What are Mistake Fares?

plane in the sky

A mistake fare is a price error when booking a trip, more specifically, it is an incorrect price for air tickets. Mistake Fares mostly arise from human errors, for example, they forgot to add a 0 or booked business class seats with economy tariffs. Mistake Fares can also be technical errors: an error in the system is causing huge price drops for airplane tickets.

What's the catch with Mistake Fares?

It’s important to be quick. Usually the fun is over after an hour, sometimes you are lucky and it is not so obvious. This is especially true for Mistake Fares, which we find in the evening or at the weekend. The tickets may be canceled again, so you have to approach the whole thing with a relaxed attitude. If it works, then you won, if not, then you haven’t lost anything.

These faulty tariffs are most likely not available for your desired departure airport and preferred travel date. You just have to take what you can get. The flight times may also be not quite optimal. 26 hours to New York? Yes, stupid. But for US$90 including return flight? That is one way to get a cheap flight ticket!

What needs to be considered when booking Mistake Fares?

Do not hesitate!

In the case of error fees and price errors, you have to be quick and book as soon as possible. If you are spontaneous, you have a clear advantage here, because within minutes the price error can be fixed.

Don't call the airline!

Why? Well, they realize that early enough that suddenly 5000 instead of normal 5 people book a flight from Oslo to New York on Friday evening. And then, of course, they will remove the mistake fare.

Pay with credit card

The chance that the tickets will be rewarded increases by many many percent. As a rule, tickets paid for by credit card are issued faster.

Be patient when booking

Wait at least for further bookings (accommodation, tours, visa applications, etc) at least until you hold your eTicket in virtual hands. If you can and your planned trip is still a few months in the future, just be sure to wait a week or two before planning and booking accommodation. Then you are on the safe side.

General information about Mistake Fares

Are there any mistake fares from (insert airport here)?

Since such price errors are of course not planned, you have to take what you can get. Even if that means that you live in Vienna, but fly from Paris. Even with connecting flights (from Vienna to Paris), you saved a lot of money

Are there any error fees in (insert month here)?

The same applies here as for the departure airports: you have to take what you can get. Since the clock is ticking with such pricing errors (after all, we all want to have our ticket in our pockets before the mistake fare is noticed), you will not find any comprehensive list that is still valid.

Means: you can only search for a rough travel period, e.g. “Bookable from March to November”. Just try the period that suits you best. A little tip: If you use the +/- 3 day search in flight price comparison websites, you will quickly find the right data.

What is the probability that the Mistake Fare tickets will be rewarded?

High – at least when it comes to economy class tickets. If possible, select the airline directly as the booking page, then you usually have the best chances. If you are fast enough and book before the error is noticed, you have a 99.99% chance that the flights will really go through at the price. It may be that at the end the price is still displayed, but precautions have already been taken in the system to correct the mistake fare. Then unfortunately you were unlucky, that’s the hard truth.

Depending on the provider, you will receive a cancellation email that says so that the tickets cannot be sold at the price and your booking will be canceled. Sometimes there is an option to re-book the tickets at the right price, but we wouldn’t recommend it. For the normal price, there will definitely be better offers.

The chances are not as high when the pricing error has occurred for business or first class. It is simply because the financial loss in such a case hurts the airline really bad and you are no longer up for goodwill. It is reasonable. We don’t want to drive them into bankruptcy, we just want to grab a few extras. But: there is hope! Mistake Fare tickets for First and Business Class have already been rewarded! So: just try your luck, you never know…

What happens if the Mistake Fare tickets are canceled? How do I get my money back?

There are two possibilities. Either the tickets are canceled even before anything has been debited. Then great, it was worth trying, nothing won, nothing lost. It may also be that the cancellation takes a few days though this is less common. In such a case, the money, if it has already been debited, will be transferred back to your account. So that there is no unnecessary effort for you, you should (if possible) select the airline or a positively rated provider as the booking page. 

If, contrary to expectations, the provider resists the repayment or does not carry it out, you can have the money charged back through the credit card company.