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How I Booked Round Trip Tickets to New Zealand for $300 with this Airline Error Fare

As a 20 year old travel blogger, one of the biggest questions that I get is how I can afford to travel. After all, I’m planning a wedding, working full time as an ICU nurse (not exactly the highest earning income in the US), and financially supporting my fiance in grad school. Other than using airline miles, hotel points, and credit card points to book rewards trips, one of the most budget-friendly ways to travel is by finding airline mistake fares.

No, airline mistake fares are not mythical creatures. They happen every day, and you can 100% take advantage of them too! Today, I’m going to teach you everything you need to know about the airline mistake fare. By the end of this guide, you’ll be equipped to see the world on even the smallest of budgets.

Airline mistake fare (noun): When an airline mistakenly publishes a fare for a flight that is hundreds (or thousands) of dollars less than they intended to charge.

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How to find an airline error fare:

You may be surprised, but you don’t need to sit on google flights all day long to find these fares when they’re published. There’s already people doing that for you! I’ve discussed this in a previous post before, but my favorite Facebook group for budget flights is Secret Flying.

If you want to book airline error fares, like this Facebook group and turn on post notifications. This is how I was notified when New Zealand Airlines had published a mistake fare from US cities to Auckland for $300 round trip.

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Once you find the error fare, what should you do?

I recommend searching on google flights and kayak for some variations of this same itinerary that you were notified about. This includes round trip flights for dates that you want, from airports that are closer, and even your home airport.

Normally, I search for international flights out of major airports, but in this case, the error fare was valid out of Nashville, too. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until I had already booked the error fare out of Miami, but we’ll get back to that.

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Do I have time to run this past my spouse/travel companion?

Honestly, not really. But that’s ok! The #1 rule to booking airline error fares is book immediately and figure out the details later.

This is because in the United States, you have 24 hours to cancel any flight booked at least 7 days in advance without any penalties.

Which means you can book the flights and discuss details with your travel buddy later that evening. If you decide that you can’t take off work or can’t miss your niece’s 2nd birthday party, you can cancel without any penalty.

The longer you wait to book, the greater chance you have of the airline catching their mistake and missing you window of opportunity.

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Won’t the airline cancel my ticket once they catch their mistake?

Not usually. Although the airline reserves the right to cancel your ticket for any reason, they usually don’t. Imagine the terrible PR for the airline if they disappointed so many travelers because of their own oversight!

If the airline decides to cancel your ticket, they’ll refund your money and the only thing you’ll be out of is a few moments of your time for booking your tickets.

This is why it’s important to wait to make other travel arrangements until your booking has been ticketed. Once you have your tickets, you are going. Congratulations! You’ve booked your first airline error fare.

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So what happened with my experience with this New Zealand airline error fare?

Well, I must confess. I screwed up my own opportunity. As soon as I saw this error fare, I booked the flight and had it ticketed out of Miami. After I booked it, I called Matt to share with him the amazing news that we’d be going to New Zealand for less money than we had budgeted to visit US cities.

I started searching other variations of this error fare and saw that the same fare existed out of Nashville (our home airport). So, I called to cancel our flight out Miami (I booked out of Kayak, who booked through third party affiliate Vayama). Vayama has some sketchy cancellation policies, so I wanted to be sure that I got my money back before booking a duplicate flight itinerary from a different airport.

Thankfully, Vayama let me cancel my flight without any cancellation fees, but by the time I went to book the same flight out of Nashville, the error fare had expired. Unfortunately, the airline realized their mistake in the 15 minutes I was on the phone with Vayama. Not only was the error fare out of Nashville corrected, but I had literally just relinquished my tickets out of Miami. I am still kicking myself for this, and I will never make this mistake again.

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In summary, here are the steps to take when booking an error fare:

  1. See error fare, select dates and ticketing information, and head to checkout page
  2. In a separate tab, search dates and airports that are more convenient for you to see if the error fare applies elsewhere.
  3. Book the cheapest/most convenient flight immediately before the fare expires
  4. Discuss plans with your travel companion that night
  5. Cancel within 24 hours if you can’t go
  6. Once your flight is ticketed, make other travel arrangements including hotels and excursions
  7. Enjoy your trip!

Have you booked a ticket with a legendary airline error fare?

Danielle Guy