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Flight Booking

Mistake Fares: 3 Things to Know Before You Book

Scott Keyes

Scott Keyes

July 29, 2023

2 min read

Mistake Fares (also called error fares and glitch fares) are the result of airlines or online travel agencies accidentally publishing the wrong price. These errors can be caused by humans or automated systems.

While the actual booking process is the same as booking a normal flight, there are three very important things to know when booking a Mistake Fare:

1. Book immediately. Directly with the airline when possible.

Most Mistake Fares disappear quickly—often within minutes or a few hours—so act fast if you’re interested.

Thankfully, you can often cancel or change a flight within 24 hours without penalty, so it’s typically best to book first, then deal with requesting time off of work, finding a pet sitter, etc. 

24-Hour Rule

In the US, airlines must allow passengers free changes or cancellations within 24 hours of booking so long as the ticket is:

  1. Booked directly with the airline
  2. Booked 7+ days before the departure date
  3. Flight departs from or arrives in the US

For in-depth details and links to policies, check out this guide to the 24-Hour Rule.

Book directly with the airline when possible

When you buy a ticket from the airline, it’s issued immediately, so the airline is more likely to honor the fare. On the other hand, when you book via an online travel agency (e.g. Kayak, Priceline), there’s a delay before the ticket is issued. If the mistake is fixed before your ticket is issued by the airline, they might not honor the price.

Not booking with the airline? 

In some cases you can also cancel or change a flight for up to 24 hours even if you book through an online travel agency (e.g. Kayak, Priceline). The terms vary, so read the fine print before booking.

2. Use the booking button in our deal alert email.

Mistake Fares can be hard to locate and time is of the essence; click the booking button in our alert email to go straight to the deal. 

You can then change your departure airport, dates, number of passengers, etc. to configure your itinerary.

Reminder: book directly on the airline website if possible. See point #1 above if you missed it.

Having trouble getting the Mistake Fare price to show up?

  1. The Mistake Fare might be gone. If you click the booking button in the email and don’t see the fare we’ve quoted, the deal is most likely gone.
  2. If the ticket price changes when you add more passengers, try booking each ticket separately.

3. Don’t make any non-refundable plans for two weeks. 

On rare occasions, airlines have cancelled Mistake Fares after the purchase has been confirmed and tickets have been issued.

Don’t worry: If the airline decides not to honor the Mistake Fare, they can’t charge you a higher price automatically. They’ll typically let you know within two weeks and give you an option to get a refund, or purchase a ticket at a higher price.

Learn more about what to do if your Mistake Fare is not honored.

Can’t find the fare quoted in the deal alert email?

If you’ve followed the instructions above (use that booking button!) and still can’t find the deal, it’s likely that the Mistake Fare is gone.

If you have a question about a deal, please contact us and we’ll be happy to take a look at what’s going on.

Scott Keyes

Scott Keyes

Founder & Chief Flight Expert

Scott has traveled to 46 countries (and 46 states!), living in California, to Oaxaca, to Oregon. He’s left-handed, drinks five cups of tea daily, and holds a vendetta against the “Happy Birthday” song. On a dare, he once ate 13 hot dogs (and a bowl of Dippin’ Dots) at the ballpark. He grew up in Ohio and founded Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) in a Denver coffee shop. Favorite airport: PDX.

Published July 29, 2023

Last updated December 19, 2023

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