glitch and error fares

Tips and Tricks: Move Quickly to Take Advantage of Glitch and Error Fares

This post is an oldie but goodie. But given the recent influx of “glitch” and unpublished airfare sales, it was time to dust it off for the readers. Remember, move quickly to get those great deals. Enjoy!

On Christmas Day 2014, thousands of people jumped on “glitch” or error fares on Etihad Airways that allowed them to travel to Abu Dhabi, South Africa, and the Philippines for as low as $200-$300 round trip, including taxes and fees. The fares included multiple cities and spanned much of 2015 with the dates of travel, and also included other amazing destinations like South Africa and  the Philippines. Etihad decided to honor the glitch and error fares, and throughout this year I know numerous people who are going on bucket-list vacations for a small fraction of the normal price.

This has happened numerous times since then. Just last week, there was a fare from Baltimore to Paris for $214. Two hundred and fourteen dollars…round trip…to Paris! In fact, much of Europe was on sale for less than $400 from the East Coast. And that fare lasted for less than an hour.

Websites to Check

Before the beginning of this year, I had no idea that there were websites that are devoted to these types of error or “glitch” deals. Now, I check many of them quite frequently or even daily. Two top sites are TheFlightDeal.com and SecretFlying.com. Check these sites early and often (read: perhaps a couple of times a day) to find the best deals. And as TheFlightDeal.com warns, if a sale fare listed on that site is more than a couple of days old, it is likely gone or expired. But this is even more paramount for computer “glitch” deals, which can be gone in a matter of hours. Or, in the case of last week’s fares…minutes.

Be Flexible and Move Quickly

And, of course, glitches require flexibility with dates and times. But if you can get to a bucket list location for a few hundred dollars, you have to be prepared to move on a moment’s notice. This is the stuff dreams are made of. But there are some super sales that are also not advertised that are not technically “glitch” fares, but can afford big savings if you are diligent and flexible with dates. For example, just in the last week there were fares of under $400 round trip from San Francisco to various Asian cities, and Boston to Iceland for $238 round trip. Those unadvertised sales probably last a day or two at max (and true glitches sometimes only last minutes or hours).

These fares are a gift, so you need to book as close to immediately as possible. They typically don’t last long because once the airline discovers it they are correcting the system. This is the time to employ the mantra of many of my traveling colleagues: “Book now, plan later.”

Book, Then Wait

Final Note: The Department of Transportation has said that airlines are no longer obligated to honor a glitch fare in certain instances. So wait until you have a confirmation and give it a little time before making additional plans. But if you do book a nonrefundable hotel, for example, based on a glitch fare, then the airline is responsible for either  honoring the fare or reimbursing you for anything nonrefundable.

And remember DO NOT…UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES… CONTACT THE AIRLINE WHILE A GLITCH IS OCCURRING (or even afterwards)! Just sit back and let the magic happen (and don’t ruin it for everyone else by alerting the airlines so they can correct the issue)!

For more tips and tricks on how to get the best travel deals and other travel tips, sign up with BarrisTourista to get a 5-Page Travel Deals Mini Guide with ways to scoop up great deals! 

glitch and error airfares

Main Photo credit: Jag_cz/Shutterstock


I am a lawyer. I am a journalist. I am a writer. I am a photographer. And I love to travel.

15 comments on “Tips and Tricks: Move Quickly to Take Advantage of Glitch and Error Fares”

  1. good tips for those who weren’t in the know already. The Abu Dhabi fare was cool although I still think it wasn’t a glitch and that they did it on purpose. Due to the extensive dates people had ample time to plan. I was happy I caught that deal!

  2. I just visited the Dominican Republic and took a flight for the first time this year. I was so terrified but now that I’ve done it I really think that I can do it again. Now, I fear I can’t afford it lol! I’ve been looking at several posts lately about cheap airfare and maybe I’ll look into that so I can prepare for my next trip!

  3. When I tell you I was SICK that I missed that Christmas Day glitch!! That’s what I get for paying my family attention and ignoring my social media! Lol great tips and thank you for the sites I will be on them!

  4. Interesting Glitch airfares must be a hidden secret in the airline industry because I had never heard of this. Will certainly take advantage of this opportunity ….Had doubt about honoring tickets after reading your tips & tricks understand how to navigate the best airlines deals.

    1. Bree, no I haven’t had that personally happen. This is a recent DOT rule change. But most airlines will honor it, but they are also shutting down those glitches much quicker now. They don’t last nearly as long from what I have seen; they are selling out fast.

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