This method for securing inexpensive flights could potentially land you tickets at remarkably low prices, but it does come with some risks.
In search of affordable flights for your upcoming trip? Error fares might be your best bet.
As the name implies, error fares arise from pricing mistakes found on the internet when advertising flight costs. Occasionally, tickets are offered for significantly less than their intended price, often due to human oversight or glitches within the intricate systems that determine flight pricing.
Knowledgeable travelers can capitalize on these discrepancies to score budget-friendly vacations, but it’s important to be aware that these cut-rate fares carry certain risks.
Here’s a comprehensive guide to error fares, covering everything from how to locate them to the potential outcomes when booking them.
The Secret to Discovering Error Fares for Affordable Flights
Numerous websites and newsletters are devoted to discovering budget-friendly flights, some specializing in strategies like skiplagging and error fares.
One such example is Jack’s Flight Club, which disseminates flight deals through email newsletters and a mobile app. Instead of directly selling tickets on its own platform, it redirects users to the airlines’ or travel agencies’ booking websites. The subscription is free, though a Premium subscription offers access to additional discounts.
This service provides notifications about economical flights departing from various airports in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, as well as from Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC in the United States.
Secret Flying offers a similar service, featuring cost-effective flight offers and error fares showcased on its website and subsequently shared with subscribers via email. Their offers encompass departures from airports worldwide and come at no cost to users.
Additionally, you can establish price alerts for specific routes using aggregator services like Skyscanner or Google Flights.
It’s worth noting that error fares tend to be corrected or sell out rapidly, necessitating swift action to secure a budget-friendly flight.
What are the factors behind error fares?
Flight prices are typically determined by intricate algorithms that adapt to various factors, including the demand for specific routes and the distance to be covered.
These prices can also be influenced by online travel agencies acting as intermediaries in flight sales. Error rates occasionally arise when these agents display prices that diverge from the airline’s direct rates, either due to human errors or system glitches.
In some instances, currency conversions may be inaccurately executed, resulting in a significantly lower flight cost than intended. Airlines may also miscalculate passenger mileage, especially concerning connecting flights, which can lead to reduced taxes.
Occasionally, airlines make the oversight of including a superior, business, or first-class flight in an economy fare. This is often where substantial savings can be found, as economy fares are primarily comprised of taxes and surcharges, which typically remain unchanged in cases of errors.
As technology advances and AI becomes more prevalent, erroneous rates are likely to diminish in frequency and be promptly rectified when they do occur.
What are the potential drawbacks of booking a fare with an error?
Airlines typically honor error fare tickets, but this isn’t guaranteed unless there are legal requirements in your country mandating it.
Such requirements usually consider factors like the obviousness of the error to the consumer, the duration the error was available online, and how promptly the buyer was notified.
However, passengers who take advantage of these discounted rates should be aware that the airline has the right to cancel their flight if they become aware of the error and choose not to honor it. In such cases, passengers are entitled to a full refund and cannot be charged the full ticket price without their consent.
For this reason, platforms like Jack’s Flight Club and Secret Flying advise against making additional travel arrangements, such as hotel bookings, until the last moment.
Secret Flying suggests there is a “small chance” of the airline canceling the ticket, so it’s wise to opt for refundable or flexible accommodations when planning to travel with an error fare.
Nevertheless, if you accidentally book a flight in error because the discount was not excessively abnormal, you may have the right to contest the fare or seek compensation from the airline for any additional expenses incurred, such as hotel reservations, in the event of a flight cancellation.
Jack’s Flight Club asserts that approximately 70% of the error fares it shares are accepted by airlines, as they generally prefer to avoid the hassle and negative publicity associated with ticket cancellations. Once the ticket is issued, the likelihood of it being canceled diminishes.
To maximize the likelihood of securing an error fare, it’s recommended to book directly with the airline and only select tickets with plausible discounts.