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What Is An Error Fare? The Need To Know Guide!

What Is An Error Fare? The Need To Know Guide!

What is an error fare?

An error fare (also known as "mistake fare") is exactly what you think it is! It's a pricing error that occurs when issuing the ticket. This is often referred to as a glitch in other sectors. The airline industry has one of the busiest (and most complex) computing systems around. So, there are many complex algorithms and structures working simultaneously that can sometimes cause conflicts or errors/mistakes.

You may or may not be surprised to learn that the majority of these mistakes are due to human error. A simple typing error (like forgetting to enter an extra zero) can shave off hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in seconds. But to fully understand how and why an error may have occurred, you need to pick apart the fare and understand all of its components.


When looking at a ticket, the final price that you pay is a total price for the ticket you have purchased. You will rarely see the breakdown of the ticket and its associated fees and taxes. However, to understand where the error might occur, you should take an in-depth look at the fare breakdown.

Moving back to the question of what an error fare is, you should know that it is a pricing error or glitch which could have occurred either due to human error or some sort of computing malfunction. As soon as the airline has loaded this pricing error, it will directly show up on the Online Ticketing Agents (OTA's) website within minutes. This is a known as an airline-based error fare. It should not be confused with OTA-based errors that occur on specific agents' sites, as these are pricing errors specific to one travel agent or group.

The real question is: do you dare to book an error fare in the hope that you might be the lucky? That you'll jet off into the sunset for a fraction of the cost? Because as we'll discuss, error fares are gambles.

15 Rules About Error Fares!

  1. Do not call the airline under any circumstances (to book or ask about the fare).
  2. Do not book if you do not want to go on the trip--save the fare for others.
  3. Always book with a credit card (when possible, even with credit card fees).
  4. Be patient: do not book anything else immediately (hotels, car hire, positioning flights, visas, etc.).
  5. Keep checking the thread to see what others are reporting.
  6. Do not resort to abusing airline staff on social media.
  7. Monitor you ticket on Check My Trip.
  8. Remember: error fares are often human error, and are not a traveller's right.
  9. Ask TravelPirates staff or members about questions you have under the specific thread.
  10. Error fares require staff to update information constantly, so we might not be able to assist you with specific requests.
  11. Do not only rely on the samples outlined in the thread; often, other dates will work.
  12. If you have found more dates, routes, or samples, share with the community.
  13. Do not post your error fare ticket on social media (especially personal information--i.e. ticket number).
  14. If you find an error fare, inform us either via Contact Us Form, Facebook, or Twitter.
  15. Remember, error fares are extremely lucky, but they are not your right!

What's the Catch?

Booking error fares is a matter of speed, flexibility and desire to explore destinations you might not have considered before. Error fares are not predictable and this means you have to continually follow us and our associated blogs. Neither we or anyone in the travel industry know when an error fare will occur. It could be a case of one popping up in the middle of the night and lasting for a few minutes to one being active for weeks on end.

DO NOT expect error fares to work from all local airports, desired destinations, or specific date requirements. To truly enjoy the rewards and benefits of error fares you have to be flexible and enjoy vacationing with a twist. There are no guarantees on where the next error fare destination will be, so this means you will have to keep an open mind.

Important Factors To Consider!

The nature of an error fare is such that you do not want to shout from the rooftops that you booked an error fare. You need be patient, and hold on tight as error fares can be a bumpy ride. It may take awhile to establish if the fare will be honored; therefore being cautious is the best way forward.


Airlines are not stupid. They will notice if 500 people are trying to book the same flight from Stockholm to New York if the average sales per day for that route is only 50 people. By calling the airline, you will harm everyone's chances of getting to book this fare. The key is to strike the online ticketing agents and quickly book your tickets, although you won't know if they will be honored for some time after purchasing them.

Error fares are such that even if they are honored, you will not get another opportunity to switch the ticket to another date, so make sure you are available on the dates you have purchased. Airlines will not let you change your dates once error fare tickets have been issued, even if they have a 48-hour exchange policy--so ensure all your details are correct and purchase only if you intend on traveling!

    Frequently Asked Questions!

    • Do error fares occur in business and first class?

    Error fares occur in all cabin classes, including Economy, Premium Economy, Business Class, and First Class. The probability of errors in Economy are significantly greater as the bulk of fares are in this class (as well as fact they are the most honored, as the financial loss to the airline is lowest). Here at TravelPirates we share error fares in all cabin classes. If we post a higher grade fare, expect its availability to be extremely limited.

    • What is the probability of the error fare being honored?

    The probability of tickets being honored is not a precise science; it boils down to the financial loss to the airline. If the error fare is in Economy, there is a significantly greater chance the error will be honored, compared to fares in Business or First Class. Just because it is a higher chance, though, it is still not a guarantee. Your chances of success are based on selling price vs. number of tickets issued, along with region and period of sale. Airlines sometimes do not mind issuing an error fare, as they may not suffer a huge loss. Also, they may honor the fare as an act of good will to their customers.

    Larger ticketing agents are less likely to cancel your tickets of their own will. Companies such as Expedia issue tickets very quickly and do not cancel them unless they are instructed to do so by the airline. We always recommend you stick to these ticketing agents when booking error fares.

    • Why do I need to book with a credit card?

    We highly recommend booking with a credit card because it increases the chance of your ticket transaction going through quicker. It especially helps you get your money back if the error fare is not honored. The legal protection provided by credit cards can be higher then that of debit cards. In our experience, Amex cards have the best customer service when it comes to mistakes, errors, and refunds.

    • How can I book the error fare posted?

    We almost always link to our flights comparison tool, which will cross compare the cheapest vendors ticketing the fare. However, the cheapest option does not always reflect the best agent for error fares. Sometimes, smaller ticketing agents who offer lower priced error fares will not honor the error tickets, so we highly recommend booking with the more established auto-ticketing agents (like Expedia).

    Why do you send me from the U.S. site to your European sites?

    The main reason we redirect you to our regional sites is sometimes they will have vendors issuing tickets that are not available in the U.S. This is because sometimes pricing units are exclusive to certain currencies or regions. Here at TravelPirates, we are always in communication with our wider network of sites to deliver you a comprehensive array of fares, dates, and samples. In these cases, you may need to translate the page to English or your language of choice. This can be done easily by using Google Translate or the Google Chrome Browser.

    • How do I translate foreign pages?

    When visiting our sister sites in Austria, Germany, Poland, France, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden, or Switzerland you can use Google Translate the page's text. A more effective option is to download the Google Chrome Browser on your device, as it can normally translate the entire webpage with a click of a button.

    • What happens if my error fare is cancelled?

    Errors may be cancelled. This will normally happen within 72 hours, but the rules and conditions are always changing. If your ticket is cancelled, you are entitled to a full refund of all charges paid (including credit card fees, but excluding any currency fluctuations), regardless of whether you are booking with a debit or credit card. The primary reason we recommend using a credit card is so that you will receive money back faster in the event of cancellation due to the additional protection of the credit card company.

    • How to monitor your ticket status?

    There are many tools out there for finding out the status of your ticket, like Check My Trip. The site gives realtime raw access to your ticket information--but make sure to never share the information from this site with anyone.

    • Are there ever error bookings for hotels & car rental?

    Error bookings do not only occur for flights! They can be found for many online transactions, including hotel rooms and car rentals. We share any and all travel-related error fares on our blog. Hotel and rental errors are more rare, and we tend to spend more time looking for error airfares.

    Previous Error Fare Examples!

    Example Error Fare Email Acknowledgement

    British Airways

    Dear Customer,

    It has come to our attention that for a short period of time there was an obvious pricing error for business class seats from Norway to a number of US destinations. The correct prices have now been reinstated. Your recent changes booking was concluded on the basis of the disability fare, which may have been up to six times lower than the actual fare for that journey, and ordinarily that booking would be void. However, we have decided in this instance we will allow you to travel the full itinerary as planned.

    British Airways Customer Service

    *If you have purchased a e-ticket via a third party OTA and not directly with the airline you might not receive such an email from them however, it is often the case if your ticket has been cancelled you might receive something similar to this indicating your ticket is void.*

    Never Miss A Deal Again!

    Newsletter Signup Newsletter

    By signing up to the TravelPirates Newsletter you will find breaking-news emails are sent out anytime time we post an error fare. This is the fastest way to ensure you have error fares sent directly to your inbox.

    TravelPirates Facebook Facebook Page

    A great way to keep on top of error fares to to 'Like' the TravelPirates Facebook Page. You can can browse through all the articles we post daily, with the guarantee that if a error fare is ever found, we will post it immediately.

    Twitter Twitter Page

    If you are always on the go and want notifications without all the pictures, why not follow us on Twitter? You will have short & sweet alerts about the latest error fares and cheap flights sent directly to your smartphone.

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