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How to take advantage of 'mistake' fares for super cheap flights

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Mario Anzuoni/Reuters/File

(Read caption) Mistake airfare pops up occasionally online, but not all air carriers will honor it.

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You might have heard of mistake fares in the past few months- there have been a few of them.  What are they, and how do you capitalize on them? 

One mistake fare I was actually able to take advantage of was the Etihad Christmas Day

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$200 fare, which got me from Chicago to Abu Dhabi for $200 roundtrip last week.  You can read up on my trip here.  How was I able to secure these fares?

1.  I Was Lucky

Grabbing a mistake fare like this requires a bit of luck.  I happened to log on to the internet on Christmas Morning (I'm a bit of an addict), and saw these fares going live.  I booked immediately, which itself is lucky, as these often sell out in minutes.

2.  The Airline Honored the Fare

In a combination of a requirement by US Law and not wanting to have a major PR disaster, Etihad honored the fare.  Once a fare is ticketed to the passenger in the United States, it would require a major undertaking to cancel that fare- it can happen in other countries a lot easier than stateside.

3.  My Time Was Flexible

A great perk of Brad's Deals is we have very flexible work hours- it's not a 9 to 5 type of gig.      So, I was able to fly to Dubai and Abu Dhabi for the weekend, without any grief from my employer (I am a travel editor, after all- it's, uh, essential for my job).

Others that have purchased recent mistake fares, like United's business class fares that were priced wrong in Danish Kroner, were not honored by United, and the airline was backed by the Department of Transportation in that instance.  Your mileage may vary on these types of sales, but if you wish to capitalize on them in the future, I suggest joining FlyerTalk or reading our blog here to stay on top of the latest breaking travel news!