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Mistake Fares FAQ

Mistake Fares FAQ

Old May 7, 07, 3:30 pm
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Mistake Fares FAQ

I was wondering if it would be useful to have a mistake fares FAQ. I'm not sure whether the lack of one is deliberate--for example if people feel that it would tend to reduce the flow for some reason.

I can think of a few things that the FAQ might address:

Rule #1 -- DO NOT CALL ABOUT ANYTHING UNTIL FARE IS OFFICIALLY PULLED
Anatomy of a typical mistake fare (why they happen, how long they last, etc.)
Where to book and why (Orbitz, airline, Zuji, etc.)
E-tickets or Paper?
Notes on refundability, changeability, HIP, etc.
Compendium of some of the big ones in the past with thread links

I'd be happy to take a stab at this if people think it's worth stickying, although I'd probably need some expert help in revising the content.
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Old May 7, 07, 3:54 pm
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Originally Posted by emoney1978 View Post
I was wondering if it would be useful to have a mistake fares FAQ. I'm not sure whether the lack of one is deliberate--for example if people feel that it would tend to reduce the flow for some reason.

I can think of a few things that the FAQ might address:

Rule #1 -- DO NOT CALL ABOUT ANYTHING UNTIL FARE IS OFFICIALLY PULLED
Anatomy of a typical mistake fare (why they happen, how long they last, etc.)
Where to book and why (Orbitz, airline, Zuji, etc.)
E-tickets or Paper?
Notes on refundability, changeability, HIP, etc.
Compendium of some of the big ones in the past with thread links

I'd be happy to take a stab at this if people think it's worth stickying, although I'd probably need some expert help in revising the content.
Rule #1 of Flyertalk Misake fares...Do not call about mistake fares.
Rule #2 of Flyertalk Mistake fares...YOU DO NOT CALL the airline about fare mistakes.
Rule #3 of Flyertalk Mistake fares...If you FIND a fare, please put up all pertinent details.
And the last rule, (#4) of Flyertalk Mistake fares...

If the next mistake fare you see posted, you MUST fly.

Somehow it doesn't have the same ring as Fightclub.
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Old May 7, 07, 3:56 pm
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Originally Posted by emoney1978 View Post
Rule #1 -- DO NOT CALL ABOUT ANYTHING UNTIL FARE IS OFFICIALLY PULLED
Better yet... don't call until 3 days after you THINK the fare is pulled. The thread in question has many instances of self-appointed experts proclaiming that the fare was dead, especially after checking just one set of dates on one site.
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Old May 7, 07, 4:04 pm
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I don't think a sticky for mistake fares would be useful. Each and every mistake fare is a different beast and there is no sure fire set of rules to follow except Do Not Call. Wait at least until the fare has been pulled before calling and even then waiting 24-48hrs would be a good idea. Whatever you do don't ever call to ask if they are going to honor the fare.

Anyway, the do not call bit is posted so many times in mistake fare threads I don't see the point of such a sticky.
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Old May 7, 07, 4:07 pm
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Originally Posted by Seattle Flyer View Post
Anyway, the do not call bit is posted so many times in mistake fare threads I don't see the point of such a sticky.
And yet still people can't be bothered to read that, so there's no way they'd read a sticky.
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Old May 7, 07, 4:20 pm
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Originally Posted by Seattle Flyer View Post

Anyway, the do not call bit is posted so many times in mistake fare threads I don't see the point of such a sticky.
Actually, in the two I've participated in (EWR-SJO and LAX-AKL), I didn't see anybody post "do not call" until after somebody said they had called. Obviously it shoudl be common sense, but usually the OP doesn't state this.
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Old May 7, 07, 4:47 pm
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I think if we suspect a fare is a mistake, we should call out of decency. If the human gives us the same fare, and we complete the transaction, then we aren't trying to get away with something. But if the computer offers a fare, and we shy away from interacting with a human, then we know we are doing something less than ethical.
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Old May 7, 07, 4:50 pm
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I'm going to move this to discussion right now - if someone wants to create an actual FAQ instead of complaining about people who call-in, then we'll determine whether to stick it (or just link to it in the Welcome Thread, so it can be bumped up when these kinds of mistakes do appear).

Just some things I've noticed about people who book these fares:

1) People, as a whole, are generally selfish - especially in an internet community. No matter what you do, people will call. Why? Because they can't wait & want to make sure they protect themselves.
2) People who do call & admit to it are chastised (sp?). That won't change. People who chastise them will blame them for screwing up the deal for everyone.
3) It's a cycle that won't end. Accept it & move on. Talking trash about people after the fact & giving them a bunch of 's doesn't change anything. The damage, or perceived damage, is done.

Bottom line - create a FAQ if you want to - just make sure it's general & don't attack anyone specifically. It's probably better if it's done in a seperate thread & not this one because I won't sticky this one & I doubt my fellow mods would either.

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Old May 7, 07, 5:33 pm
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I agree. People will be selfish, no way around it, so best to take that as an assumption right off the bat.
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Old May 7, 07, 5:55 pm
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I would appreciate a FAQ for mistake fares. I've learned so much here recently but am still not an "expert." I've never really seen the point to most mistake fares. Unless you happen to be in the right place at the right time, it is nearly impossible to take advantage of them. Unless the trip was purely a MR, I couldn't risk the chance of something not working out and being forced to pay full walk-up rate.

The recent SFO/LAX-AKL mistake fare is may be the exception as it would probably make financial sense for me to figure out how to get to SFO/LAX.

I don't understand why anyone would call the airline in the first place. I can't remember the last time I called in I called into AA just to "chat." Mileage upgrades are the only thing I can think of but I agree that people should wait until after the fare/rate has been pulled.

The only fare mistake I've ever taken advantage of was a local hotel that priced their presidential suite at $169 so I decided that was a good reason to throw a party.

I would very much like to read about the anatomy of a mistake fare. Thanks in advance to whomever writes it!
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Old May 7, 07, 6:45 pm
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Originally Posted by myfrogger View Post
I've never really seen the point to most mistake fares. Unless you happen to be in the right place at the right time, it is nearly impossible to take advantage of them. Unless the trip was purely a MR, I couldn't risk the chance of something not working out and being forced to pay full walk-up rate.
Generally the status of the mistake, if it is a mistake, is settled before most people fly. So you know whether the fare/rate is going to be honored or not, which greatly reduces the risk.

One key lesson, however, is not to specifically make non-refundable travel arrangements around an apparent mistake until there is some conclusion one way or the other. Hence it is almost always a good idea to book any "mistake" reservations at least a few weeks in advance, unless you were planning to travel anyway.

I've now been part of the Hilton Tokyo and Conrad Bangkok pricing errors as well as the CO Y-fare MSP-LGW, NW YYZ-OTP, and the latest UA LAX-AKL discounts. I've been involved in one or two others that haven't panned out, including the BOS-MAD, but again your status generally becomes clear before you travel.
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Old May 8, 07, 2:53 am
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Originally Posted by cmdinnyc View Post
Generally the status of the mistake, if it is a mistake, is settled before most people fly. So you know whether the fare/rate is going to be honored or not, which greatly reduces the risk.

One key lesson, however, is not to specifically make non-refundable travel arrangements around an apparent mistake until there is some conclusion one way or the other. Hence it is almost always a good idea to book any "mistake" reservations at least a few weeks in advance, unless you were planning to travel anyway.

I've now been part of the Hilton Tokyo and Conrad Bangkok pricing errors as well as the CO Y-fare MSP-LGW, NW YYZ-OTP, and the latest UA LAX-AKL discounts. I've been involved in one or two others that haven't panned out, including the BOS-MAD, but again your status generally becomes clear before you travel.
As a n00b, thank you for that clear and concise explanation of what can happen. My only question (after perusing the LAX-AKL thread) would be this: if you book said mistake fare on one of the travel sites before it's pulled, is the airline forced to give you that fare for the mistake price or can they say "sorry this was our mistake, we've cancelled your ticket"?
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Old May 8, 07, 4:46 am
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Originally Posted by UCBeau View Post
As a n00b, thank you for that clear and concise explanation of what can happen. My only question (after perusing the LAX-AKL thread) would be this: if you book said mistake fare on one of the travel sites before it's pulled, is the airline forced to give you that fare for the mistake price or can they say "sorry this was our mistake, we've cancelled your ticket"?
The airlines and TAs have cancelled tickets and theyve honoured them. You never know. It depends on how many people bought tickets, where they bought them, will it hurt the airline/hotel/TA, How does the media react and so forth?
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Old May 8, 07, 9:17 am
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Originally Posted by zrs70 View Post
I think if we suspect a fare is a mistake, we should call out of decency. If the human gives us the same fare, and we complete the transaction, then we aren't trying to get away with something. But if the computer offers a fare, and we shy away from interacting with a human, then we know we are doing something less than ethical.
I have to disagree with you here. Utilizing a mistake fare is not theft. It's up to the airline whether they choose to honor the ticket or not in the end (if the ticket is priced such that it's unenforceable as a contract) and although I've heard lots of sabre rattling over lawsuits when tickets *aren't* honored I still have yet to see proof that one has gone forward.

Mistakes have always been very much YMMV. You roll the dice and take your chances. Given that the actual incremental cost of flying one additional pax is negligible, I don't feel as though I'm 'stealing' at all. IMO that's why many airlines honor such mistakes. The free publicity and goodwill they stand to gain far outweigh the cost of flying the folks taking advantage of such fares.

Given this, I have no problem with NOT alerting the airline. This is no different than Amazon or Buy.com mispricing something and honoring or dishonoring the sale. Why call and limit the pool of those that can take advantage if they DO decide to honor?
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Old May 8, 07, 10:08 am
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Exclamation Watch the terminology!

Calling it a Mistake Fare FAQ is a very bad idea. It gives them proof that you knew it was a mistake before you booked.

If you know it's a mistake, and booked it, how can you expect it to be honored? They can claim mistake, cancel it, and all bets are off.

If you take advantage of a really good deal, or a limited time special, or whatever you want to call it, then perhaps it will be different.

Here are 3 examples of fares:

- 1 GBP fare within Europe
- $10 SkyBus fare to Columbus
- $20 fare to Europe

All 3 are good fares. Only 1 of those was a mistake. How can you be certain the last one is a mistake until they say it's a mistake?

Let's just be smart about the terminology here.
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