|The Beach-side Promenade in Nice, France; photo by Andrew
Mistake to the Mediterranean
by Andrew Ingersoll
Last week I took a trip down Thai Memory Lane. This week, I’m reminiscing about good ole mistake fares.
First of all, has anyone seen any recently? A mistake fare is when an airline or hotel publishes a purchasable fare to the public, which is blatantly an error or mistake.
My most memorable mistake fare grab was Seattle to Genoa, Italy.
The date was November 13, 2004. “Yevlesh2” posted at 1:25 p.m. on FlyerTalk: a six-day minimum stay SEA-FCO (Rome) or GOA (Genoa) for $238 after taxes and surcharges. BINGO! A mistake fare that was right up my alley. I was living and working in Seattle at the time and was in need of an adrenaline rush.
I was at work when I saw the post, so I quickly asked my supervisor if I could take my lunch break early. I logged on to Travelocity and Expedia as the FlyerTalk thread advised and, sure enough, found the deal still live: SEA-ORD (O’Hare)-CDG(Paris) on United Airlines-GOA (Genoa) on Air France returning GOA-ZRH (Zurich) Swiss Air-IAD (Washington Dulles)-SEA on United Airlines. Looking at the routing and airlines, I couldn’t believe such a random mismatch had occurred and was still bookable.
The frenzy that followed on the FlyerTalk thread was intoxicating. People posted their successful routings while others posted their struggles. “What the heck?” I thought as I snagged a ticket right then on my lunch break. My heart was racing as I frantically picked an eight-day period in the not so distant future. With a few clicks, the confirmation page popped up and I was done. Smiling at the screen, I let out a sigh of relief and my heart rate dropped from 120 to 110 beats per minute. My face felt flushed as I returned to my nursing duties. This was a very successful lunch break! I couldn’t help but think about what sort of adventures I’d come across.
|Cote d’ Azur Harbor Boats; photo by Andrew Ingersoll
I spend the next few weeks combing the Internet for things to do and places to go. I decided on a full day in Milan and the rest of the time in the Cote d’ Azur in the South of France.
For those of you who have snagged a mistake fare, kudos! For those of you who haven’t yet, I’d like to go over a few quick tips. First, read your travel blogs and threads daily. You never know when someone will find a published, purchasable mistake fare. Secondly, when you do stumble across one, read the details of the post. A good source will provide precise information relating to minimum length of stay, routings, approximate prices, which site to purchase on, and the fare class and codes. Next, follow the instructions. Do exactly what is required to get the deal. NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER pick up the phone and call ANYONE. The INSTANT someone calls, the deal will be dead. As a community of frequent, frugal travelers, we look out for each other, post succinct questions, and provide respectful replies.
When Rick started this blog, his aim was to provide information to people that would enable them to travel at prices they could afford. Why would he want to do that? Traveling is a great hobby that enriches lives. I love it and look forward to my next trip all the time. For me, stumbling across a mistake fare is the most exhilarating moment in this hobby. And time is of the essence: I’m purchasing a ticket to a destination that, three minutes prior, I never would have thought about. Then the post-purchase build up to departure — planning my mistake fare adventure — can be incredibly fun.
For those of you who haven’t purchased Rick’s Frugal Travel Guy Handbook, there is a section in it about mistake fares that provides more details and examples of the ins and outs of this unique area of our hobby. Again, all the profits from sales of the book are donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Keep a watchful eye out for mistake fares and Happy Travels!
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