Last week, DDF and DansDeals broke the news that American had bargain basement $365 round-trip tickets from Tel Aviv to JFK. The deal lasted for an incredibly long 3.5 hours, which is an eternity for a middle of the day airfare deal.
Perhaps. But color me skeptical.
Airfare between Israel and the US is, unsurprisingly, at record low pricing.
You can still book travel on Air France/KLM via Paris or Amsterdam from Tel Aviv to JFK for just $367 round-trip. It seemed to me that American was merely matching that connecting fare.
Besides, American is launching this route on May 6th and they haven’t flown from Israel in more than 5 years. They are an unknown commodity there, with little name recognition. They have jumbo 777s to fill and Americans are cancelling their flights in May due Israel’s extension of entry restrictions. Given that, I wasn’t surprised to see that the fare was only valid when originating in Israel.
Mistake fares used to happen much more often, but airlines developed tools to stop them from releasing a fat fingered price mistake.
American got both incredible publicity in Israel and sold seats that would have gone empty for much more than the marginal cost of filling the seat. That’s a win for the airline.
It’s not unprecedented for an airline to create a price mistake for publicity. Wideroe made a “price mistake” on flights to Israel and airline executives were busted leaking it onto internet forums. Other airlines have done the same to drum up publicity at a fraction of the cost that they would spend on advertising.
I reached out to American Airlines’ media relations department and they confirmed to me that the fare is being honored. However they didn’t respond when I asked if it was a price mistake or not.
Is it right to take advantage of a glitch? Sometimes a glitch isn’t a glitch at all, but it’s created to generate publicity or profit (just ask Wideroe!). But I’m not your Rabbi, Priest, or ethicist. If you are uncomfortable with a price mistake, then don’t do it. Or ask someone who is one. I’m just here to provide the information and people can do with it what they want. I wrote about some of the halachic (Jewish law) implications of airfare mistakes for the Yated several years ago here.
Rules of the deal to remember for next time:
- Don’t call.
- Don’t talk to the airline or companies offering a deal while the deal is live. You can always ask questions once the deal is gone.
- Don’t hesitate.
- These deals never last long, you’ve got to act very fast. Luckily, sites like Priceline and Orbitz provide the ability to cancel a ticket for free until the night after you book. That allows you to make a quick ticket and then analyze whether you want to use it after the craziness settles.
- With some really crazy deals like 4 mile island, the only tickets that were honored were people who booked tickets to travel that week. Luckily there were DDFers who were able to drop everything and fly in first class around the world for just 4 miles.
- Don’t forget to book your baby!
- A common theme that I’ve seen with price mistakes is that people forget to book tickets for their infant children. You need to pay 10% of the normal fare for the privilege of holding your child on international tickets. My opinion is that you should always buy a seat and have a carseat for your infant just like you would in a car. But even if that is normally cost prohibitive, when you are getting tickets between Israel and the US for just $365, surely you should book a seat for the infant rather than pay for the right to hold the infant for over 20 hours.
- Sometimes websites won’t allow infants or kids to book a ticket. The date of birth on a ticket isn’t actually matched up with anything, so I’ve been known to add 100 years to the age of my kids when I need to and I’ve never run into any issues.
- A common acronym found on the DansDeals Forums is PGFHGS, or pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. Ordering a few items on a price mistake won’t raise any flags and your order may ship, but ordering hundreds of items in one order means that the order is unlikely to be honored and it may ruin for others as well.
- Browse incognito.
- If a deal isn’t working for you, open an incognito browser window and try again. You can use the setting menu in your browser to open one up, or in Chrome you can click Ctrl+Shift+N to open one.
- Mobile browser/desktop browser.
- Sometimes a deal will only work on a desktop browser or will only work on a mobile browser. If you’re on a mobile device you can go into your browser menu and click “Request desktop site” if your mobile browser isn’t working and you don’t have access to a computer.
- Follow @DansDeals on Twitter, Telegram, or SMS.
- Every day I get mail from email subscribers about missing deals and I get dozens of emails when there’s a big deal. The email digest is just a roundup of the previous day’s deals, if you want real time alerts you’ll want to follow @DansDeals on Twitter and have the Twitter push notifications of deals. Alternatively, you can signup for notifications on Telegram or SMS.
- Join DDF
- Many great deals are posted on the DansDeals Forums before they are posted on DansDeals.com, so it’s always a good idea to check there for the latest deals. Besides for deals, DDF is also an amazing resource for planning a trip, questions about credit cards, and much more.
- Create your own free trip!
- I don’t get as excited as some people over fare glitches. I’ve been playing the mileage game for over 20 years, earning tens of millions of miles and points over that time period. Those miles allow me to travel the world on my own terms and in the cabin I want. You can read some of those trip reports here. I’m still sitting on a ton of miles and it’s not because I’m a hoarder. In 2019 I burned through 2.8MM miles, in 2018 I burned through over 3MM miles, in 2017 I used 1.375 million miles and in 2016 I used nearly 2.5 million miles, and in 2015 I went through over 2 million miles. I’ve flown around the world countless times in private first class suites with miles earned from the credit card and mileage game. And I still have a top-notch FICO score.
You can also learn more about my favorite hobby by clicking on the credit card and points menus on the top of this site or by browsing the DansDeals Forums to search and read about strategies.
What are some of the best deals you’ve nabbed over the years? What other rules would you add to this list? Hit the comments!