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What Are Mistake Fares and How Do You Find Them?

Post sponsored by Dollar Flight Club

Imagine you’re embarking on the journey of a lifetime to New Zealand with Acanela, arguably one of the most Instagrammable countries on the planet. There is no doubt you’ll make all your friends jealous when you tell them you booked a $327 roundtrip flight to New Zealand for a 7 day adventure through the luminous glowworm caves, hangi feasts, mind-blowing hakas, exploring Lake Wakatipu’s edge, and kayaking through the stunning Milford Sound.

Airfare doesn’t have to be expensive, if you know how and where to look. With the help of mistake fares, when airlines publish incorrect ticket prices, you can find the absolute cheapest flights for the adventures of your dreams. And we’re going to share exactly how to do that.

Mistake Fare

Why do Mistake Fares occur?

Mistake fares are simply when airlines mistakenly publish incorrect ticket prices, like when a $1,308 roundtrip flight from Atlanta to Cape Town was actually priced at $130 roundtrip. This can happen for a few reasons:

Simple Human Error: It very well may be that a $1,308 roundtrip flight from Atlanta to Cape Town was actually priced at $130 roundtrip. Someone omitted or added a number in error when entering a flight price, which can result in a significantly reduced ticket until the error is found by the airlines and corrected.

OTA Glitches/ Omitting Fuel Surcharges & Fees: Online Travel Agencies (OTA) are often behind these Mistake Fares. Missing fuel surcharges are often why we see prices so reduced. Fuel surcharges are in place to prevent frequent flyer programs from allowing people to book 100% free tickets using miles (as you still pay these additional fees). Every now and then though, these charges may be dropped by mistake. Fuel surcharges can make up hundreds of dollars on some airlines.

Currency Conversion Errors: When moving from currency to currency, things can get tricky when you’re working with such complex systems. For example. a $4,000 United Airlines flight was available for around $79 recently. This specific Mistake Fare occurred due to a miscalculation between the Danish Kroner and British Pound.

These are tough to find on your own unless you’re endlessly scouring the web and only pop up once in awhile. You can always use services like Dollar Flight Club, who has a team of flight searchers scouring the web all day long to find these crazy mistake fares. If you want to do it yourself, here’s how! 

Spotting mistake fares

Before you get into booking, it’s imperative you know what a mistake fare actually looks like so when you see a cheap international flight you know to book it before it’s gone.

Some of the best Mistake Fares we’ve ever seen:

  • San Francisco to New Zealand for $260 round trip.

  • New York City to Ivory Coast for $318 round trip.

  • Houston to Melbourne for $184 round trip.

  • Business Class from US cities to Lima, Peru for $450 roundtrip

  • East & West Coast US to India for $244 Round Trip

If you end up finding cheap flights in these ranges, you should book fast.  The following tips and tricks will help you spot these deals.

Be flexible with airports:

Check out ALL airports close to where you live, as well as to your destination if you want to end up finding the cheapest flight. We recommend looking from airports within 2 hours driving. Some of the best deal’s we’ve found have been from airports other than our home airports.

Remember, budget airlines in Europe and Asia are extremely cheap. You can fly roundtrip from most cities for less than $90 roundtrip within those regions.

That being said, if you’re looking to get from New York to London for example, but the fare is $1,200 roundtrip (way above our good deal range of $300-$500 roundtrip), check to see what the price is from New York to Brussels or Paris. That fare might be $400 roundtrip and then you can add on a cheap roundtrip flight from Brussels or Paris to London on budget airlines like Ryanair for $40 USD.

If you do that, you’ve easily saved $500+ on the trip already.  Finding cheap flights is more of an art than science in some cases.

Be flexible with travel dates:

The easiest way to find a great deal is to be quite flexible with your travel dates.

This can be tough if you have limited time off from work. However, try to plan far in advance. Sometimes you can save $300-$500 if you leave on a Thursday as opposed to a Friday for example. Rather than picking your dates first, try and see when it’s cheapest to travel and work backwards

In addition, booking last minute almost always never works out. In our opinion, never wait until the last minute unless you have to. When you see a great fare 2-3 months in advance for domestic flights and 3-8 months in advance for international flights you should book them.

Overall, Friday and Sunday are usually the most expensive days. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday are the absolute cheapest days to travel.

Use Google, Momondo, and Skiplagged to search and book:

We recommend visiting at least 3 websites when you’re looking to find the absolute cheapest flight. These are our favorites and always bring back the cheapest fares. They also allow you to put into play the tips listed above. Try to go through these sites in numerical order. 

Google Flights

  • Always start with Google Flights. It’s the best search engine in the business for a few reasons. Mainly, it allows you to nicely browse the calendar view.

  • Pull up their handy calendar tool to find the best travel dates for your route, by locating the dates with the lowest fares. Make sure you browse the calendar view up to 9 months ahead so you know the cheapest time frame to travel and then narrow down on the dates you want.

  • Keep a tab on the price you found.


  • Head over to Momondo, re-enter your itinerary that you found in Google Flights and hit search. You can also double check them on Priceline to confirm you have the cheapest deal.

  • Momondo almost always brings back the absolute cheapest fares, even cheaper than in Google Flights 95% of the time.

  • Keep a tab on the price you found.


  • Lastly, head to Skiplagged and enter in those dates to be sure you have the absolute cheapest fare.

  • Once you’ve gone through these steps and you’ve found a fare within the price ranges we outlined above, go ahead and book!

  • Skiplagged is so good they actually got sued by United Airlines a few years ago for saving people too much money on airfare by finding a loophole in the booking system. Good news for us, they won the lawsuit and they're still up and running. 

A few Bonus Tips & Tricks:

  • Have VPN access? Try to use your VPN to access the flight comparison sites and set your location to a poorer country with a different currency (not USD, GBP, AUD, etc.) as the flight tickets may be lower that way.

  • Try clear cookies after each search or search in “incognito mode” which may bring back a slightly cheaper ticket.

Don’t have time to do all of this? We’ve got you covered. Our team does this all day like clock work. So book your expedition today and join the club!