Mistake fares allow for some amazing, luxurious travels at the click of a button. All you need to know is which fare is currently on sale.
Here is a short history of mistake fares.
Myanmar Business and First Class fares: many airlines under $300 USD
Often called the granddaddy of all mistake fares – many, many airlines allowed heavily discounted Business and First Class bookings back in 2012 from Myanmar.
This rare occasion was caused by a major currency change in Myanmar that just back from the cold of political isolation. For a number of days it was possible to book Business and First Class tickets departing FORM Yangon, Myanmar at 95% or more off on a number of airlines.
I flew several times around the world (starting from Myanmar) for under $300 USD in Business Class. Most airlines honored the fares exactly as booked. I found these fares on Mighty Travels Premium using their 30 Day free Trial
Qatar Airways Mistake fares Algiers, Algeria to Fuzhou, China in 2016
Qatar is our favorite airline with its excellent inflight service and new planes plus great catering. In 2016 the airline published fares from Algiers, Algeria to Fuzhou, China for a fraction of their regular prices (under $300 USD for International Business Class). Many eager fliers took advantage of the fares and earned a lot of miles while enjoying the superb service Qatar offers.
Qatar Airways: Saigon to the Americas in 2017
Another great fare from our favorite airline. These sub-$600 USD fares showed up from Saigon to many places in the Americas including Argentina and most Qatar destinations in the US. Ultimately these fares were honored as well by Qatar Airways making us even more impressed by the airline.
Qatar Airways – Manila, the Philippines to Abidjan, Ivory Coast in 2019
Just two weeks ago Qatar Airways and Royal Air Maroc published a Business Class fares under $600 USD from Manila, the Philippines to Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Again $600 USD got you around the world in Business Class. The judgment is still out if this fare will be honored.
Hong Kong Airlines, US airports to Asia for under $700 USD
In August 2018 Hong Kong Airlines published Business Class fares for $700 USD to Asia from San Francisco and Los Angeles. There was plenty of confusion in the days later but the airline honored the fares and all passengers got to fly as ticketed.
Etihad Airways from the US to South Africa under $200 USD
During Christmas of 2016, Etihad Airways published lovely fares from most US airports to Southern Africa for just around $200 USD in Economy Class. The company (to their credit) honored the fares and many passengers got to see South Africa for less.
Emirates Airways Maldives to the US for $99 USD
Emirates ‘chose’ the Maldives as their departing airport for a mistake fare to the US for just $99 USD in Economy Class. After an initial wave of cancellations the company had a change of heart and decided to honor the fare.
Ethiopian Airlines from Singapore to the US East Coast
Back in 2017 Ethiopian Airlines offered Business Class fares from Singapore to Europe and the US East Coast in Business Class for under $1,000 USD. Customers who bought this flight were later told to fly in Economy instead or get a refund. Most customers took a refund.
Air France First Class from the US and Istanbul
Air France showed First Class fares for $2,000 USD Round Trip from the US to London and later from Istanbul to Brazil. The airline started canceling fares just a week after customers had bought tickets. Some customers initiated court action and succeeded eventually a number of our customers got to fly in First Class to Brazil.
Cathay Pacific from Hanoi to many US cities
Cathay Pacific published First and Business Class fares around $1,000 USD to the US from many Vietnamese cities in early 2019. The fares were only available for a few hours but the company ended up honoring the fares in full (or provided a refund).
So what can we learn from our short history of mistake fares?
Mistake fares are unpredictable in its nature but happen every few days. The most lucrative deals happen every few months
Airlines that provide superior customer service often end up honoring ‘mistake fares’ while airlines that generally ‘compete on price’ will not
You will often just have minutes to book before a mistake fare disappears, we recommend using Real-Time Alerts, but you’ll have 24 hours to cancel with most OTA bookings and most airlines provide a full refund for mistake fare bookings.
You don’t get to choose the destination so be flexible and know your potential travel dates in the next 12 months (airlines typically allow bookings up to one year in advance).
Don’t make further plans when booking a mistake fare for at least two weeks – some airlines will compensate you for certain expenses but expect a long-drawn-out battle for it.
Mistake fares DO earn miles (as well as status) and often generate so many miles that you get another domestic (or international) flight out of it.
Make It Happen
When you are notified of a mistake fare (Mighty Travels Premium will text or email you, even if you are just making use of their free trial) you must book it as quickly as possible. Often these fares only last for a few hours so it is worth keeping your mobile on and beside your bed, in case one pops up in the middle of the night!
If you need a vacation sooner and don’t want to wait around for one of these deals, one of the best places to pick up a bargain is our luxury travel auctions. Grab a hotel stay or travel essential for a fraction of its value!
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