Everything about mistake fares

Imagine finding an extremely cheap deal on flights to India from NYC. Also, the dates of the flight match with your travel schedule, so you decide to take a trip. However, after a few days, the airline notifies you that your ticket gets canceled. Well, this might sound unreliable but the same happens but many times airlines do this under the name of mistake fares.

What is a Mistake Fare?

Mistake fares are commonly known as error fares and it occurs when an airline sells air tickets lesser than their cost. Further, the prices charged for flight tickets is much lower than what the airline charges regularly. Well, various reasons become the causes of such mistakes including technological errors. Moreover, mistake fares have become much more common during the past year(during Covid-19).

A top example of mistake fares was British airways charging $1.35+taxes despite $265+taxes. And the airlines end up selling more than 2,000 tickets at mistake prices within 2 days. However, later on, British Airways canceled the tickets and refunded the passengers for the same.

What is the history of the mistake fares statement policy?

In the year 2011, the Department of Transportation passed a law prohibiting airlines from increasing prices after ticket purchasing. Thus, if you book Dallas to India flights for $230+taxes, the airline can’t ask you for more money if you have paid the same for it. Further in 2012, the Enforcement Office discussed how the post-purchase price increase rules should apply. In 2014, many cases of error fares came to light in and the department issued a notice of transparency. Further, this notice was issued for the protection of air travelers and to help them enjoy flight bookings.

Under this, the department also added concerns relating to the spread of error fares through travel websites, forums, and blogs. Further, it states that no matter, if the airlines halt the sales or correct the mistake of several air tickets, the tickets will be refunded. And these flight tickets are sold because of the information spread over the internet before it becomes unavailable.

In 2015, the Department of Aviation Enforcement & Proceeding made a new policy relating to mistake fares. Under this policy, the department decided not to enforce section 399.88 that talks about mistake fares. However, the department applied two new rules on airlines and travel agencies related to error fares.

  • An airline or a travel agency should tell that the fare was mistaken or it is an error fare. Further, the airline or the travel agency needs to prove that the fare and the ticket bookings are a part of the error fare situation.
  • The airline or the travel agency must pay back all the passengers who purchased the wrong-fare ticket. This amount should also include the additional out-of-pocket expenses made by travelers for ticket purchases. Further, these expenses include non-refundable hotel reservations, tour packages, etc.

Reasons behind mistake fares

Error flights were very common between 2000-2009, however, since 2017 they started becoming rearer. You might be thinking that airlines found some ways to prevent mistake fares flights. However, your idea becomes wrong as they start to see regularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. Further, they are many reasons that are responsible for these fares and most often passengers have no idea about them. However, we have decided to make you aware of the common mistakes that result in these errors.

Human Error

Human error is one of the most common reasons given by airlines while canceling bookings because of error fares. This mistake is also known as ‘fat-finger error’ and there are many examples of it. Further, the most common example, here, belongs to Delta Airlines.

Under this situation, Delta Airlines’ website gave some amazing deals with a discount of more than $100. Later, a spokesperson of the airline informed that the problem was fixed, and they will not cancel the tickets purchased. Well, this error fare was a great gift for travelers who booked their flights timely can enjoy huge discounts.

Foreign Currencies

Sometimes when an airline tries to list fares with various currencies, they end up unbalancing the conversation. Thus, most of the time the prices that are shown on the website aren’t right. And the prices finally posted can be more or less than the actual prices which benefit passengers. Further, most often these mistake helps passengers save hundreds of dollars on one flight booking. And thus, this mistake is also known as airline error and sale fares.

Technological issues

Well, many tech-savvy people can find this mistake hard to digest but it can happen on many occasions. Sometimes the computer puts wrong prices that are posted on the airlines or travel agency website. Further, today airlines use various algorithms to decide the booking price of flight tickets. And all this process sometimes becomes complex and wrecks up the algorithms and shows wrong results. Thus, error fares end up being posted on the airline’s website and passengers start to buy them at the wrong prices.

Communication issue

Airlines and online travel agents communicate with each other through a global network. Further, this GDS is a computerized network connecting the travel industry service providers including airlines, hotels, etc. Because it is a computerized system, many communication problems are possible. Further, sometimes the airlines provide wrong information to travel agencies causing mistake fares. Moreover, the main reason behind these errors is the loading error that happens because of the database consultant.

Fuel surcharges & Fees

These surcharges came into existence during the 70s fuel crisis for supporting varying fuel prices. However, these surcharges are still applied not allowing frequent fliers to book 100% free flights. These charges make up a big part of the total cost of flying tickets. Thus, when the airlines leave it out, it decreases the cost of flight bookings to almost half of the total amount. And because of this, the passengers end up saving big on flight bookings and enjoy cheap flights.

Thus, missing these fuel surcharges & fees can reduce the ticket booking cost to a big amount. And air tickets will end up becoming cheaper through mistake fares.