A large part of flight ticket booking is now automated and online. You no longer need to queue up at a counter, or wait for your number to be called, or visit a counter at all, actually. It’s all just a click away. Just because it’s computerised, though, doesn’t mean it’s error-free – that’s how error fares happen!
What are Error Fares?
Error fares are basically fares that have been wrongly priced, whether due to human or computer errors. We’re not yet advanced enough technologically for computers to feed themselves input and troubleshoot them for errors, and sometimes, policy changes plus frantically- or sloppily-updated systems equals delicious error fares for potential hunters. As a result, fares can become over- or under-priced, and of course as consumers, under-priced is the goal!
How Can You Spot Error Fares?
Error fares do occur, but they’re not common enough to crop up every time you casually browse the Web. Here’s how you can increase your chances of spotting one:
Learn from Your Contacts
Unless you practically live on the Internet, your best chance is to rope in more eyes and ears; in other words, it’s high time you start building your social network! For introverts, don’t worry, it doesn’t have to involve a lot of face-to-face mass socialising.
Word of mouth, virtual or otherwise, remains one of the fastest ways you’ll get a hold of tasty information. Stock up your social feeds with friends, strangers, frequent travellers, error fare stalker pages like Secret Flying, and whoever else provides useful and prompt news about such flights, because error fares can disappear in a matter of hours!
Broaden Your Search Horizons
If you’re prepared to do a bit of sleuthing yourself, then head over to websites like SkyScanner or AirAsia (the latter for certain flights only), search for flights, and view fare prices for the entire month instead of the usual daily or weekly settings displayed for you by default. Flight fares will vary by weekday or weekend, or when there are public holidays. That’s normal. What you should be looking for is a sharp drop in prices in comparison to other fares listed for that month, such as a RM100 flight in a sea of RM600-RM1,000. By scouring an entire month’s prices at once, such an abnormality will stand out.
Stalk the Forums
Up for sleuthing, but not for the actual dirty work? That’s fine too, because some kind-hearted people do share their spoils on their social networks when they find such deals. Forum-stalking will take up more of your time than sorting through your social feed, though, so this method might not be for everyone.
Consider This First!
Error Fares are NOT a Way to Score Your Dream Holiday
Error fares are genuine, over-looked mistakes, so their destinations and points of departure aren’t predictable. The chances of the error fare lining up with your location and dream destination aren’t exactly non-existent, but they’re hardly optimistic, either. Consider error fares something of a happy surprise instead.
As afore-mentioned, the chances of error fares lining up with your location and desired destination is not very high. This means that you might be able to snag your dream destination…if you’re willing to fly from a far-away airport, maybe even from a different country! For example, you might be a Malaysia-based citizen who snagged an error fare to fly to the UK through a direct flight from Singapore. You’ll have to factor in the cost of travelling to Singapore to catch that flight if you truly want that flight.
Not everyone can afford the luxury of ditching everything at the drop of a hat to jet off somewhere you didn’t even consider yesterday. If you work a 9-to-5 job, can you apply for leave and get it approved with a relatively short notice?
If you’ve managed to score an error fare, congratulations! It might not be a ticket to your dream destination, but a cheap flight’s a cheap flight, right?