Perspective from a 35+ Mistake Fare Itins

Discussion in 'Mileage Runs/Travel Hacking' started by beaubo, Feb 19, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. beaubo
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    beaubo Silver Member

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    My Credentials:
    9 YYZ-LCA AZ
    8 YYZ-BUH KL
    4 YOW-HNL NW
    3 DXB-YYZ SU
    3 KUL-YYZ DL
    2 SFO-AKL UA
    2 AMS-PVG AZ
    3 XXX-XXX deal that never made it to FT
    2 XXX-XXX deal that never made it to FT
    couple of others I probably forgot

    My Methodology


    1. I assume that any given mistake fare will be SHORT-LIVED regardless of private emails/website, secret-codes, other 'preservation' schemes. Therefore.....

    2. I book 'mistake fares' FAST, damn the wife, the job; finding dates that will have the LEAST PAINFUL consequences downstream, NOT time-consuming planning/research about IDEAL dates.

    3. I assume that date changes and refunds won't be possible and am prepared to take the financial hit if the dates just don't end up working out; so I can book without the agonizing cost/benefit analysis

    My Expectations

    1. I give the airline the benefit of the doubt that if they discover their mistake and contact me within a reasonable time frame (considering all the software they have, 48-72 hrs is enough time for them to find/react/contact), I will happily agree to refund the fare with no additional consideration. As I would want to be treated the same way as a business owner.

    2. Airlines have better anomoly fare detection software and some embedded lurkers at key travel websites, so I expect fewer mistake fares and shorter windows.

    My Perspective

    1. There are enough terrific fare sales and bonus promotions and that are indeed published with reasonable durations which should be the basis of your quest for maximizing miles and/or status.
    That is where the value of Milepoint can be leveraged.....crafting EXISTING information into creative, compelling and no-risk sharing earning strategies.

    2. Many mistake fares were not ex-North America, so they are inherently self-limiting to those who have BOTH time and money. So, in most instances, if you are not privy to more mistake fares than in the past, you are not missing much.
     
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  2. DesertRose
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    DesertRose Silver Member

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    Great advice. I haven't taken to totally ignoring the spouse, but he's learning that when I say, "Do you want to go to London the third week in April for $300?" I need the answer in 60 seconds.
     
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  3. Punki
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    Punki Silver Member

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    AMEN, to that. When the UA SFO/AKL hit I called my brother and sister-in-law and tried to talk them into joining us on one of our trips. I knew they were in trouble when they said, "Let us think about it". Hah!

    They called me a week later lamenting the fact that the tickets had gone up to $10,200.00. ;) :)
     
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  4. chef4u
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    chef4u Silver Member

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    How often do you get fares out of YYZ?
     
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  5. JasonH
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    JasonH Silver Member

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    I'm going to ask a question, but first I think I need to set the reason for said question.

    Up until very recently nearly 100% of my travel was for work. It was either they called on Thursday and wanted me in Toronto or Montreal on Monday morning and I booked a last minute ticket or I was given 3-6 months worth of dates and destinations and I booked it all then. Everything was billed to the client so price never really mattered. This isn't to say I didn't do a few mileage runs at the client's expense (DEN-SLC-ATL-YYZ-CVG-ATL-SLC-DEN for example), but everything was bought with a specific purpose and I always bought price blind and dependent on schedule.

    All that being said I'm now in a position where I don't travel as much for work and get to go places for fun. So, question time. How in the world do you find these mistake fares? :confused: Are you just sitting there checking preferred itineraries or is there something else? I'm never going to be a points maximizer, but I'll gladly hop a flight to just about anywhere at very short notice. I just need to know how to find them.
     
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  6. GUWonder
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    GUWonder Silver Member

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    It is more important than before to be faster than even before in booking such deals when they come to your attention, particularly as the airlines are way more efficient at catching them and they are also more timely in shutting them down.
     
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  7. scoow
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    scoow Silver Member

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    If someone answers this, the airlines will see it and we'll never find another mistake fare! [​IMG]

    Seriously, most of them are found by luck. Someone happened to search the right combo at the right time and discovered that airline X mistakenly entered the $5,000 F fare as $50.00 (I wish!) or forgot to add the fuel surchages on flights to ABC. If there was a pattern, or easy method to find them, the airlines would use the same method to find and correct the mistakes before we could book them.
     
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  8. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    1. Scouring Farecompare, there are groups of people where they split up the division of labor, monitoring their home airport and sharing results with the group.

    2. Most come just by having large numbers of people searching for their own trips, when there are enough people searching for enough travel then occasionally a mistake will pop up and they'll post it. My sense is that over time on Flyertalk, most of the really good mistake fares came from pretty new members.

    I originally found the ex-PPT currency conversion error on Travelocity (everything originating in Tahiti was pricing out at 1% of the 'correct' fare, no matter what the itinerary).

    My first mistake fare was MX C from any US gateway to PVR back in 2002 for $51++.

    I benefited from MDT-STX (US F).. from YYZ-LCA (AZ J)... from the Le Meridien Khao Lak Ugandan Schilings rate (Presidential Oceanfront Villa with breakfast for $33/night all-in), the Hilton Tokyo $3 rate for executive floor... a $25 jr suite at the Renaissance Seattle...

    There was the MH $99 LAX-TPE in J (~ $450 for LAX-TPE-KUL)... the UA $1100 LAX-AKL in C... there was the Hilton Moorea deal where they priced rooms in CFP instead of XPF.. and I did the Hilton Barbados New Years glitch (first night regular price, all nights thereafter $0) and the next year discovered the same glitch at the Hilton Nassau and the Arizona Biltmore) and I've even benefited from award redemption mistakes where all room types were available on points at some pretty nice hotels.

    I did get in on the ~ 52 euro Prince de Galles rate and it was a good rate for sure but in the end I think I'd have been happier redeeming a couple of FFNs at the Park Hyatt Vendome. At least I'd have gotten breakfast, which at either property will set ya back more than I want to think about!

    All-in, I'd agree with the importance of.
    1. Book quickly. The opportunity may disappear at any moment.
    2. Be willing to lose your investment. If it's a $5 fare, who cares?
    3. More often than not an airline or hotel will let you cancel and refund, even on a non-refundable mistake. But still adhere to #2.
    4. It's not goint to last long, so get yourself booked first and then share liberally. There's strength in numbers.
    5. Exception to #4 is Marriott, my sense is that they tend to honor when the exposure is small and cancel when the exposure is great.
    6. Airlines seem to honor more often than hotels, North Ameircan airlines honor more than airlines from other regions. But whether airline or hotels will honor is a crapshoot.
    7. Don't book non-refundable airfare or accomodations to match the mistake deal until you know whether it's going to be honored. Even though non-refundable accomodations may bolster the case to have the rate honored, or at least for the travel provider to reimburse your out of pocket costs that were made in reliance on their rate.
    8. Don't sweat it, deals happen and some don't work out. If they want to honor it, great, you'll have an amazing trip and opportunity. If they don't, another one will come along.

    I generally stay out of the ethics debates on these deals. If a hotel or airline wants to honor a deal, I want to have put my name in the hat to say I'd sure love to go along. But I'm not going to insist on it or sue over it. I'm just along for the ride.

    Meanwhile, it's certainly true that there are plenty of promotional $1 rates out there. I've even seen an airline purposely load a supposed 'mistake rate' just for the publicity (Independence Air did it in the middle of the night and then they called the Washington Post to tell 'em they caught the mistake and some folks got travel for just a few bucks). Who's to say in advance what the story is? I'm not saying every mistake is a promo, or in the travel provider's best interests. But I'm not going to try to guess which is which up front. Instead I'll just on an outstanding offer, and wait to hear later from the travel provider what they intend(ed). FWIW.

    Cheers,
    Gary
     
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  9. secretsea18
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    secretsea18 Gold Member

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    Thank you Beaubo for sharing your experiences with us at MP.
    I have taken advantage of a few of the deals:
    JFK-FCO
    ORD-LHR
    JFK-MAD
    IAD-FCO
    to name a few.
    I did as the others mentioned: Book the best dates, then call others who might want in on the deal (in my case family members) -- who fortunately said "Why not" and away we flew!
     
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  10. Punki
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    Punki Silver Member

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    A long, long time ago I accidentally found a $25 BA fare SEA/LHR. I didn't go for it because I won't fly internationally in coach and, at the time, I didn't need anymore status miles on AS, which was the only BA partner that I flew with any regularity.

    I did share it with some FT friends who enjoyed the trip.
     
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  11. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    If it's the famous World Traveller + deal for $20++ you mean, I was unfortunately on the beach in PVR on the MX business class mistake fare... not checking Flyertalk.. and missed it. But I still appreciated altaflyer finding and posting it! [​IMG]
     
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  12. GUWonder
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    GUWonder Silver Member

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    I bought many of the Thanksgiving week US-Europe BA WT+ $20 tickets, the YYZ-LCA AZ biz deal, the YYZ-ARN/OSL/CPH/HEL KL coach deal, HEL-SIN KL coach deal, a lot of OSL-PVG/PEK SK biz, and more LHR-MXP-DEL AZ biz deal than anything else. There were also some other international deals that I am sure I have left out. That's beside the US-originating deals with AC, US, AA, DL and UA, most of which worked out, but two of which flopped and another of which worked out like a bonanza like no other. Credit for getting in on those deals goes to people who have posted on this thread and many of the contributors to FT who haven't posted to this thread.
     
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  13. Punki
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    Punki Silver Member

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    I don't know anything about the World Traveller deal. All I know is that one night I was messing around on the internet with my son and found a $25 BA fare, SEA/LHR. I thought about it for a while because it was such a smoking deal, but then decided I didn't really have the time or inclination for a flight that long in coach. I am soooooooo spoiled. ;)
     
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  14. TrueBlueFlyer
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    TrueBlueFlyer Silver Member

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    Book first, think later...
     
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  15. Punki
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    Punki Silver Member

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    Unless you are totally sure that it is a deal that doesn't interest you. ;)
     
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  16. JasonH
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    JasonH Silver Member

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    Thanks Gary. I've read posts on your blog where you talk about mistake fares, but until now I've never really thought to try to find them. I guess it really is luck of the search.
     
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  17. dhammer53
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    dhammer53 Gold Member

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    Reminds me of:

    The $2 fares to ART (Watertown NY) from most of the US. You had to fly on USAirways. :eek:
    The $100 BOS/EWR/MAD fare offered by Air Europa (flew on CO metal)
    The Biz fare UA offered to Aukland.
    The $51 fare to Iceland.
    The $200 fare LAX/HNL that included 2 nights in a hotel.
    The $25 W Times Sq deal that was loaded New Years weekend, and remained up for days.
    The $20 fare to Europe/Mid East offered Thanksgiving weekend several years ago.

    We're off to BCN on the AA $270 R/T ai in March.
     
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  18. cfischer
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    cfischer Silver Member

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    I usually buy and ask later [​IMG]

    Thanks to 24 hrs or more free xl rules ... no problem
     
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  19. Jaimito Cartero
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    Jaimito Cartero Silver Member

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    Buying tickets asap is definitely the best way to go. I rarely buy more than 2 of any deal for myself, but often help friends and family. In fact, I usually just want to go to interesting places, in the front of the plane for a reasonable price.

    The most I ever bought was 4 of the Jumbo EZE-NYC on DL that I found a number of years ago. After flying one on the 18.5" wide DL Biz seats, I canceled the other three. Just not worth it!
     
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  20. Jaimito Cartero
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    Jaimito Cartero Silver Member

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    I've done quite a few number of deals. I don't know if I can even remember them all now.

    Did the LAX-HNL on NW, SEA-SVO, YYZ-LCA, YVR-BUH, USA-AKL, ICN-PHX (HA, and reversed to PHX-ICN for later this year), PHX-DPS, LAX-EZE, EZE-NYC (DL), LAX-PNH, the recent Expedia.ca package deal. I'm sure I've forgotten about 4 or 5 more. Plus I've done 6+ underground fares that were quite lucrative.
     
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  21. TrueBlueFlyer
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    TrueBlueFlyer Silver Member

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    the best deals (the only deals) I've done so far thanks to FT... for international was Delta JFK-MAD for $230 which turned into KLM&AF JFK-AMS-CDG-MAD-CDG-AMS-JFK for $230... best North America was United LGA-IAD-YUL $220 for 2 people 3 nights hotel included, and domestic JetBlue $12 JFK-LAS with a night hotel included.

    and now the more I think about the Delta JFK-CPH $150 deal of this week that I missed, the more I'm kicking myself for it even though I just returned from Europe and off to Asia soon, and don't really need the Delta miles.
     
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  22. wanderlust
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    wanderlust Silver Member

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    Having only bought my first mistake fare last year, I'm eager to learn more from you "vets."
     
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  23. stockmanjr
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    stockmanjr Silver Member

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    I've gotten lucky on the BA WT+ fare flew JFK-LHR-AMS and now the DL NYC-CPH fare. Also got in on the Hilton mistake a couple of years ago in Osaka so I've been very very lucky to get to do these things! Taking 4 friends on the NYC-CPH deal next month and they were all stunned when I messaged them..
     
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  24. dhammer53
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    dhammer53 Gold Member

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    As was I when I received your call. [​IMG]

    I hate when work gets in the way of a good deal.
     
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  25. yaffa
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    yaffa Silver Member

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    I am approaching the entire thing from two directions. One is looking for broken booking engines (remember LAN.com? Sky-Tours with their 'name your own price' and engines for the YQ stuff) the second is looking at base fares (price changes, routing rules, ...).

    For the first one you may (check local laws ;-)) screen-scrape the heck out of some of the meta search engines (or iterate through Expedia with all their different point of sales). For the second one I use a web based engine that allows me to list base fares for certain dates/routes. Note: Expertflyer pays per query, so do NOT screen-scrape EF. You may want to check where KVS gets its information from, though.
     
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