What is an error fare and how to benefit from it?

(Last Updated On: 7. June 2018)

An error fare is usually a glitch in the IT-systems (which are partially high automated) of travelling agencies or airlines. But sometimes there are mistakes made by humans too and they occur e.g. either by negligence or in stressful situations. These errors are leading to the fact that the regular price for the flight or the hotel is much cheaper as usual. Some people might think that in a world of computers and automatization mistakes would not happen. But the opposite is the fact and mistakes are inevitable even in a high-tech world. In this article I will show you how to find those error fares (for flights) and what are the risks for you in this special case.

How can you benefit from an error fare?

Well, usually, you can profit from an error fare by paying a much smaller price for a flight or a hotel as you would usually pay. Or, you could pay a regular price for economy class and fly instead in the business class due to one of those error fares. However, there is a catch, and it does not work always. Why? I’ll will tell you in the next section. Please, read on, folks.

Instructions when you discover an error fare

In case you discover an error fare and decide to book a flight, you should follow some rules which would increase your success. Otherwise, you would risk your booking would be canceled. For that reason, the following steps are very important!

Be fast

Some error fares can last a couple of days. But usually, it would be discovered within a brief time span. So, if you see an error fare, you should be fast in your decision and acting. For those tickets based on an error fare are pretty covetable, as you can imagine. But how to find error fares quickly?

You can do your own research by using the some searching tools, like SkyScanner. But this would mean, you need to use the tool frequently and it is understandable, it could be quite annoying after a while. For that reason, you could visit some expert sites like SecretFlying whose team is searching for error fares and publish them online.

Another possibility is to follow discussions in forums where error fares are discussed and published. Just a couple of the good ones: Flyertalk Mileage Run discussion (U.S.), Red Flag Deals hot deals flight section (Canada), Hot UK Deals thread (UK), and OzBargain travel deals section (Australia).

But one of the most effective ways to discover error fares quickly is to follow some airfare watchers on social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook. Thus, you could get quick information about cheap flights.

After the booking

As you can also imagine, airlines are not happy about error fares. For that reason, after you have booked a flight, never contact the airline because it would correct the mistake immediately and also cancel your booking. Hence, just wait a couple of days without doing anything else.

Pay with a credit card

The reason is simple: paying with the credit card will process your payment faster, which again increases the probability of success.

Book the flight separately from the other arrangements like hotel, rental car etc. and wait for a while

Don’t purchase other services together with your flight. Instead, as mentioned above, wait about 3 days or even a little bit longer. You need to do this to get absolutely sure, your error fare based purchase will not be discovered. It would be pretty annoying to get the flight cancelled and to grapple with arrangements you will not get refunded.

Actually, that’s it, folks. When you follow the rules, you would have a good chance, your error fare based ticket will be accepted. Of course, it will not happen to every of your purchase. More about it you will find in the sections below.

How to check the validity of the ticket?

Usually you can check the validity of your ticket online on the website of the airline. Also, some of the airlines save their data in huge computer reservation systems (CRS) and allow third parties to grab the data and show it on their own platforms.

The best known platforms:

If you don’t find your flight at those third parties, you need to check the website of the airline as not every airline saves the data in the CRS

Is your ticket safe after you got the confirmation?

Not always. Especially the expensive tickets for the Business and First Class are usually contested because the loss for the airline would be quite high. But for Economy Class you have good chances to succeed. The most error fares are discovered within a week. So, if you will not be contacted a week later, after you booked the flight, your trip will be pretty safe. Sometimes one wins, sometimes one loses. That’s why it is important not to book a hotel too soon after you booked an error fare based flight.


As you can see, you can profit from error fare based tickets and save money. But you need to follow some rules to succeed and this kind of “ticket hunting” contains some risks. So, keep it in mind when you discover an error fare.



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