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What You Need to Know About Mistake Fares

by Kimberly Krol Inlander

Dec 11, 2020

© Stokkete | Dreamstime.com

Tips / Budget

According to Scott’s Cheap Fares, mistake fares do exist, and most are honored. Recently, SCF Premium members in 50 cities found one of the best deals of the year: a mistake fare to Latin America on Delta for travel throughout 2021 with fares as low as $63 round-trip to Chile. So, what do you need to know about mistake fares?


The folks at Scott’s Cheap Fares have seen hundreds of mistake fares over the years, with about 80–90 percent honored because airlines know negative publicity of canceling the tickets outweighs revenue they’d recoup.


With mistake fares, no news is good news. For the 10–20 percent that get canceled, you will get a refund and sometimes a goodwill voucher as well. You’ll almost always be notified within 72 hours of purchase.


According to Scott’s Cheap Fares, here are the mistake fare best practices. If a mistake fare pops up:

  • Book quickly. Mistake fares typically last only a few hours and once they are gone, they are gone.
  • Book directly with the airline. The federal government guarantees a 24-hour grace period after booking which guarantees a full refund, but only if you book directly with the airline.
  • Once you book, wait two weeks before making any non-refundable plans. By then, the airline likely won’t email you and say your ticket is canceled.


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