Quick and Dirty Guide to Glitch Fares

Yesterday Virgin Atlantic had, what was initially advertised as an intense sale: Dallas to Melbourne, Australia for, brace yourselves friends, ONE. HUNDRED. SIXTY. SEVEN. AMERICAN. DOLLARS. Bish. Look. Linda, honey. Lookit. I saw this on my way to workout with friend Dori. I was scrolling and reading; calculating like

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P.S. Don’t cell phone and drive. It is unsafe. I was at the stoplight trying to put dates into Momondo. I was trying to figure out how I could be DOWN. Because it costs me $165 to get from Houston to Newark ON SPIRIT fam. We’re talking me and a backpack on Spirit. So I was trying to make it work. My travel groups were popping for over and hour with other avid jetsetters trying to jump on the deal.

For those of you who do not know, a glitch fare (also called an error fare) is when there is a hiccup in the system for an airline driving the cost of a plane ticket down to, usually, a ridiculously low price. Catching one of these is a great way to international travel on a budget, and y’all know budget is my lane of choice.

I have been in a position to catch an epic flight deal like this, maybe, two other times this year. So I thought I would share with you how to navigate snagging one of these great flights for yourself.

  • Be ye ever prepared: If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready friends. This is gospel for so many things in life. Glitch fares come and go in the same time it takes you to sneeze. This is not one of the opportunities where you can really plan and thing about it, save your coins, or find a companion who is also interested in going. At this point all of my friends have been forewarned: Save your coins and give me dates you want to make moves, because if I send you the bat signal you have to be handing me your debit card number. If you are trying to travel I suggest you tuck away a spare $500 dollars in your savings in case you come up on an epic glitch fare that you want to catch.
  • DO NOT call the airline: Let me say it again. DO NOT, under any circumstance, call the airline. When you call they find out that there is a glitch that much faster and shut the error down. You have been warned my friends.
  • Gotta be quick: Error fares move fast. The travel tree that I am part of was popping when we got the alert. People trying to see what dates were working, if the prices were increasing. All of that. I had two tickets ready to purchase but I hesitated because I was not sure if I really wanted to do Australia at the beginning of next year when I have other destinations that are higher on my travel to-do list. You do not really have time for that. You have to strike while the iron is hot or the opportunity will slip through your fingers. Usually once the fare hits multiple flight deal websites it will be over within minutes.
  • Play with dates and cities: Earlier this year there was an error fare up through Air Canada that was for a few cities to Beijing and Johannesburg for under $300. I just so happened to have the bright idea to see whether the fare would come up from my city so that I didn’t have to plan to fly to Chicago or L.A. or whatever other city the deal was supposed to apply to. Lo and behold the error fare gods bestowed a gift on ya girl. Houston to Beijing for $306 and Houston to Jo-burg for $294. Moral of the story: play with dates and places. You might get lucky.
  • Attempt to book through the airline website: Most of the error fares that I have seen been through third party sites like Cheapoair or Priceline, etc. You can book through those trusted sites, but also check the airline’s website. It is the site comes up for the lower price you can book that. The airline will probably be more likely to honor the ticket they issued, should they begin canceling third party booked flights.
  • Book accommodations later: There is always the possibility of the airline canceling the flights after they have been confirmed. Plan your accommodations, tours, and alladat closer to your leave date just in case.
  • Book that ISH: Do not hesitate. If you have the cash and the days book that flight! Enjoy yourself.

~S

Posted by

I'm Sharde', I'm a PhD candidate living in Houston! I'm a nerdy jetsetter, Master Packer and personal growth enthusiast. I share my tips, tricks, and soul searching adventures here and on my YouTube channel. I enjoy reading, writing short stories, hanging out at the beach, skin care, and discovering new coffee shops.You can usually find me writing, working on my dissertation, shooting with my camera, or planning my next adventure.

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