Fare Mistakes and How to Get Them

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My yesterday post on fare mistakes might’ve made some folks think I don’t approve the practice. Nothing can be further from the truth. I absolutely love fare mistakes and have no moral qualms using most of them. I just don’t like to cross that proverbial line in the sand, you know. Fortunately, in most cases, you don’t have to lie. You just have to be quick enough to catch it. And then…

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I’ve decided to do a mental exercise and try to recall some of the most amazing fare mistakes of the last couple of years–whether I caught them in time or not. In most cases, I haven’t. Bear with me, as my memory is not what it used to be, alas.

  • A transcon Delta $40-80 glitch.
  • A United NYC-Milan deal for around $120. Was it that legendary Wideroe glitch? There were more than one, as I remember.
  • Another Delta glitch from NYC to Africa for $200.
  • Another $10 United glitch to Hawaii from Washington.
  • Several amazing deals to Israel.
  • Lifetime Fairmont Platinum status plus free suite stays for $2K (OK, that was a long time ago).
  • First class to Honk Kong on United for 4 miles.
  • I’m sure I’ve missed plenty of others.

Then there was Etihad

I wrote about the deal on Etihad here: Etihad Airways: US to Abu Dhabi, UAE $187, Honk Kong $319 and more! I happened to find this deal only because I was on the internet late at night and decided to check my Twitter list before going to bed. This is when I found the Flight Deal tweet.

#Airfare Deal: [EY] Selected US Cities – Asia / India / Africa / Middle East. $187 – $700 r/t. Details: http://t.co/mq3MRHFNej #travel — The Flight Deal (@TheFlightDeal) December 25, 2014

Needless to say, my sleepiness was gone. I did not take advantage of that fare because the dates didn’t work out for me, but I enjoyed playing with it and checking out different scenarios.

Like I said, it was a lot of fun. 

You know an addict when you are one.

Look, it rhymes!

Hotel Price Mistakes

Hotel price mistakes happen all the time–much more often than airline fare mistakes.

When they do happen, however, there are usually severe restrictions in place. Yes, you can get a room for peanuts, but usually only for one night at a time at random dates. That makes using hotel price mistakes a bit impractical, unless you are traveling there anyway. Sometimes, however, there are better price mistakes like the recent Expedia deal that I found on a DansDeals tweet and was actually able to use (well, book at least).

Expedia: Dirt Cheap Hotel Rooms With $100 Off 3 Night Hotel Stays, $150 Off 4 Night Stays, Or $200 Off 5 Night Stays http://t.co/9L7OQZzgwR — DansDeals (@DansDeals) February 10, 2015

I’m going into Liarett de Mar in Catalonia in late April – early May for the #TBEX conference, so it was a no-brainer. I quickly found the hotel where the conference is taking place and booked the room with half-board (!) for three days at $45 a day after the discount. Then I decided, what the hell, and booked another room for my cousin Timmy. I mean, for that kind of money, each of us can afford a little privacy.

I was also going to book two rooms in Paris for my trip with mom in the late summer (it has to be a revenues stay, because I would have to spend like a million points for two rooms there). However, I still don’t know which neighborhood to choose. My mom is almost disabled and I have to do some research first (HELP???).

Then, in the morning, Expedia woke up and canceled plenty of reservations, but for whatever reason, not all of them. My reservation is still intact, and I hope it stays this way.

And then there was another price mistake that did get away at the last second.

I live in New York, so getting on that deal wasn’t crucial. But I thought, why not get a Saturday night in a suite in the city for $60. I almost booked it, but the last page returned an error. I was a few seconds late.

Where to find fare/price mistakes

Airline fare mistakes inevitably appear in the Flyertalk’s Mileage Run Deals forum. Whoever says that mileage run is dead–some folks haven’t gotten the memo.

Hotel price mistakes appear in the Flyertalk’s Hotel Deals Forum. Just keep in mind the limitations that we discussed above.

However, the best option for fare mistakes, IMHO, is following The Flight Deals tweets. These guys are very fast when there are fare glitches to break.

There are other sources–and plenty of them, too–but how diligent or desperate are you, really?

There is only one problem–you don’t live on the internet (hopefully)

As you know, fare/price mistakes are usually short lived. How do you get the wind of them without constantly looking?

There are a few sources that will notify you about the glitches when they break. One is DansDeals mentioned above.

You can subscribe to his Tweet Alerts and be notified every time the glitch or another deal is twitted.

The problem is that his alerts are not curated, and you will be getting a lot of tweets, not only about flights. If you are interested in all kinds of deals (often quite good ones), then you should definitely subscribe.

The Flight Deal also has Fare Alert options based on Facebook or Twitter. Their Facebook alerts are geo-tagged, while their Twitter alerts are not. The Flight Deal Fare Alerts are an excellent option if you are only interested in hearing about flights.

Is there a but coming?

Yes, there is, but it’s my “but”. You might not have the same issues I do, LOL.

The thing is, as good as The Flight Deal is, I am simply not interested in good fare cash deals. I have miles. Plenty of them!

What I’m interested in, is bonafide killer fare mistakes. And I don’t care much where the flight originates, since I can get a cheap positioning flight on miles [almost] anywhere.

In the meantime, by subscribing to one of the above alert services, I would receive several daily tweets (that are of no interest to me), while I need something completely different. I need alerts that would be based on price only.

For the record, there is nothing too terrible about receiving a few alerts daily even if you don’t need most of them. But I thought that maybe, just maybe, there is a better way.

And I think, there might be. I am not sure, though, as I’m still investigating this option. So I would be grateful if some of you, who are familiar with this technique, could nudge me in the right direction.

Subscribing with IFTTT

I’ve stumbled upon an excellent article written by Mile Writer. I’m sure most of you know what IF THIS THEN THAT is and how it works, but what can I say? I’m a dinosaur. But it seems very promising–even to me.

If This Then That

If This Then That

Apparently, what you need is a news source, a feed reader, and IFTTT to make it work, and Mile Writer provides a great tutorial (that, I’m sure, only a caveman like me can find complicated). What it does, it allows you to add a keyword or a string, such as “mistake fare” and get the work done.

Unfortunately, IFTTT does not support boolean search operators (OR, AND, “”, NOT), which means you’d probably have to add multiple “recipes” with all of the NYC-area airports (JFK, LGA, EWR) as keywords to get the best results.

But some people might appreciate the added flexibility offered by the wealth of potential data inputs on discussion forums. For example, you could search for airline codes, service class, fare buckets, reputable users, or the “mistake fare” string, to name a few.

This sounds very interesting, and I have the whole weekend in front of me to try and figure it out. Will report.

NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIPTION

Want to know more about free travel hacks? Sign up for my weekly digest (top left) and don’t miss the good stuff.

If you have a Gmail, my newsletters will end up in the Promotion tab by default, and if you are like me, you don’t check that tab too often. However, it’s very easy to move emails into the Primary Tab. 

The easiest way to move an email in your inbox is to left-click and hold on the email to drag it from the Promotions tab over to the Primary tab. Once dropped, Gmail displays a yellow box that asks if you want to make this change permanent. Click Yes to ensure that all messages with the same From email address appear in the Primary tab going forward.

Same instructions with pictures

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Kadence

I read that post and tried to set it up but got lost too fast and gave up. If you figure it out pls post step by step instructions w arrows and circles.

Yihwan

Thanks for the mention, and let me know if you have any questions about it! Looking forward to reading your take on a tutorial.

Stan Diamond

Dear Andy, I also don’t spend all day on the internet but want to get notified about airfare mistakes and I have to be honest, I didn’t understand your instructions for setting up the alerts. I saw an ad for a service called DealRay that sends text messages whenever there’s a really crazy airfare and doesn’t overload with irrelevant deals because they are a subscription service. I’ve been quite happy with it thus far, for example last month they notified me about a JetBlue sale and I flew from NYC to LAX for $64 round-trip. If you’re planning to sign… Read more »

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