Is This The End Of The Mistake Fare Era?

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The DoT has released a memo that they will no longer be enforcing airlines to honor mistake fares. They also give the history of enforcement.

The gist of it is:

-On 04/25/11 the DoT prohibited airlines from increasing the price of a ticket after it was confirmed.
-On 06/15/12 the DoT clarified that mistake fares are subject to those same rules, once a consumer’s credit card is charged and a confirmation is sent, the ticket must be honored.
-On 05/23/14 the DoT sought comments regarding consumer taking advantage of price mistakes.
-In February 2015 the DoT declined to force United to honor the price mistakes on their Danish website.
-On 05/08/15 the DoT has decided that they will no longer force airlines to honor mistake fares as long as they can prove that the fare was a mistake. However airlines will have to “reimburse all consumers who purchased a mistaken fare ticket for any reasonable, actual, and verifiable out-of-pocket expenses that were made in reliance upon the ticket purchase, in addition to refunding the purchase price of the ticket. These expenses include, but are not limited to, non-refundable hotel reservations, destination tour packages or activities, cancellation fees for non-refundable connecting air travel and visa or other international travel fees. The airline may ask the consumer requesting out-of-pocket expenses to provide evidence (i.e. receipts or proof of cancellations) of actual costs incurred by the consumer. In essence, the airline or seller of air transportation is required to make the consumer “whole” by restoring the consumer to the position he or she was in prior to the purchase of the mistaken fare.”

The 05/08 memo isn’t a final ruling on price mistake fares, that will be published in the future.

The real question is what determines a mistake?  When Wideroe Air sold tickets on United to Israel for under $300 we all thought it was a mistake. Until it turned out that Wideroe intentionally leaked the fare onto forums.

At any rate, it’s been a fun run these past few years.

Perhaps the most memorable was the Delta glitch where thousands of people booked first class tickets to LA and Hawaii from $50.

Delta even went above and beyond the letter of the law by honoring the tickets of people who didn’t have paid and confirmed reservations. Talk about goodwill!

El Al took $336 tickets in stride by offering people the ability to upgrade to nonstop flights for $150.  They filled seats in the low winter season that otherwise would have gone out empty.

Delta even allowed people who bought glitch tickets to Israel to upgrade to nonstop flights for free.

USAirways responded to a hidden city ticket to Israel by not giving miles to people who didn’t take the final leg of the ticket to Toronto.

Etihad offered tickets for a surprisingly long time to Abu Dhabi for $187 or Johannesburg for $290.

American honored $440 tickets in business class to Asia.

What will the future hold?

Even before the DoT rules Expedia honored free all-expenses paid vacations to Las Vegas and the Bahamas.

Northwest honored $87 all expenses paid vacations to Hawaii.

American honored $250 tickets to Europe.

Delta honored $150 tickets to Europe as well.

I’m sure some airlines will continue to honor glitches out of goodwill or not wanting to pay for people’s non-refundable hotel reservations.  But for the most part this may well be the end of an era.  Ethicists will cheer.  Bargain hunters will have to evolve to find other ways of flying on the dirt cheap.  But hey, isn’t that what miles are for?

HT: Emkay, via DDF and Lucky

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28 Comments On "Is This The End Of The Mistake Fare Era?"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.


Retreat?!?!?!?! NEVER!!!!!


So just book a lot of really expensive tours and if they cancel its free


In other words, when there’s a price mistake we should make sure to attach as many reservation-contingent expenses as possible so it wouldn’t be worthwhile for the airline to cancel out on us.


So when you book a mistake airline ticket book non refundable hotel rooms and car rentals at least that will b paid for!! All u have to pay for is the airline ticket!!


One could argue that one should, in these cases, purposely book as much non -refundable stuff as possible, so that it will be cheaper for the airline to let you keep the ticket.


Well there goes my next 20 vacations. Oh well, back to work….


I’d strongly suggest not to book a crazy number of non refundable expenses with a mistake fare. Reasonable expenses likely will be fine, but you probably won’t want to fight the airline if they choose to decline it and be out 5 figures for months.

Wow... do some math

Are you all serious?

First of all, the meaning of the rule is if you book a mistake fare and the airline doesn’t honor it, they will have to reimburse you for other purchases you made in RELIANCE on travelling with that flight, as you will no longer be travelling, unless you now buy a normal priced flight.

Second of all, PLEASE tell me you’re all not serious about purposely buying as much non-refundable stuff as possible so the airline decides to let you keep your mistake fare…. Enjoy paying for all those super expensive amenities! I’ll be your lawyer if you need one. Jeez…

Glyn Gerber

On the way to China biz class( round trip) on AA for $450. Took the opportunity – hopefully it will all work out and we will get the miles that we accrue on this trip


BH now this will stop the babies on here expecting something for nothing.


Dan, you were quoted in an article on the homepage of The following is an excerpt from the article: On his website Dan’s Deals, Dan wrote, “I’m sure some airlines will continue to honor glitches out of goodwill or not wanting to pay for people’s non-refundable hotel reservations. But for the most part this may well be the end of an era. Ethicists will cheer. Bargain hunters will have to evolve to find other ways of flying on the dirt cheap.“


It should be possible to be both a bargain hunter & ethical at the same time, right? I say check with your Rav before scheming which may actually border on/be cheating.


@Wow… do some math:

@Glyn Gerber:



Just a Someone

Dan, wasn’t it this that made you famous?
Thanks for all the good deals many got!


but govt would force consumers to honor their mistake purchase. another example of corporate lobbyist buying our reps in senate and house.

Joe T

Put the pressure on the DOT! GO to

Comment on their page…let the consumer speak!!

It’s absurd they are temporarily not “enforcing” their own rule pending a final decision. As if we don’t know what their final decision will be. What chutzpah.

Osborne Greene

Dan, Remember the $225, multi-city to Beijing one way in May last year, was that a glitch?


Maybe it is time to look for your glitches in other places. You can’t be spoon feed your whole life.


@JoeT Please grow up. No one is entitled to gain from someone else’s mistake.

Please have a clear head as you navigate through life to not fall for all the crooked stuff and then justifying it as if you’re the straight one.

chana k

@Flyer: Actually, the airline has to give us a chance to hold our tickets at that price before we buy it or we have 24 hours to cancel without penalty.


What is the definition of a glitch? After all airlines often do lower their fares when they see a competitor having a lower fare to a certain location. These matched fares sometimes last a few hours or days, but they have been matched on purpose. Can the airline say that hey that fare you purchased to Milan the other week is a “glitch” because we wish to make more money on it?

Joe T


Fares are often low and cheap- how can the consumer determine what’s a mistake fare? If you sell someone something in a physical store for $1, can you then demand it back?

Also, these are the CURRENT rules! How can they decide to temporarily not enforce it?

I didn’t make these rules,. the DOT did!


@bob I would imagine that the DOT would have to determine whether something is a glitch or not


What about fuel dumps?

Eli the Tzadik

Good, it serves all you selfish pigs right.


@Eli the Tzadik,
You’re supposed to cheer not be cantankerous.

Dan said, “Ethicists will cheer.”

Cheer up! 😀


@Eli the Tzadik
And say “thank you” to Mogro17 for also reminding us we’re in Sefirah, inching closer to Shavuos! Stop the name-calling.