The beauty and agony of mistake fares

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Trivia Tuesday: Ever been halfway down the slopes and thought to yourself, "Wow, McDonald's would absolutely slap right now?” Well, in this country, you can ski your way through Mickey D's and order whatever you'd like. Can you name it?

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Trivia Tuesday: Ever been halfway down the slopes and thought to yourself, "Wow, McDonald's would absolutely slap right now?” Well, in this country, you can ski your way through Mickey D's and order whatever you'd like. Can you name it?

Good morning from 29,000 feet over the Colombian mountains! I’m sitting in a business-class seat on my LATAM flight to Bogotá.

Want to know how much I paid for it?

$6. That’s not a typo. I paid six dollars. And I didn’t use any points or vouchers. Want to know how? Keep reading the newsletter and I’ll tell you. 😉

  • ✈️ The beauty and agony of mistake fares

  • 🥂 Always bid for business

  • 🤓 Trivia Tuesday

✈️ The beauty and agony of mistake fares

If you are a member of the Daily Drop lounge (which you should be), you may have seen a frantic post from me yesterday afternoon about a crazy flight deal that I booked.

Basically, I found a flight from Jakarta, Indonesia, to San Francisco, flying on ANA’s First-class seat called “The Suite.” 👇

Normally, this flight would cost at least $10,000… But I was able to snag it for…

…wait for it…

…about $500 USD. 🤯

How, you ask? Mistake Fares.

A mistake fare is what happens when an airline’s ticketing system messes up and prices flights WAY cheaper than they should be.

Generally, these fares will disappear in a matter of minutes or hours after the airline sees tickets selling at insanely low rates.

In this case, the deal was dead within 10 or 15 minutes of me booking my ticket… it was devastating.

This is why it’s super important to jump on these deals as soon as you see them. You can’t spend too much time thinking about it, or you will miss out… trust me… it’s happened to me more times than I can count.

So let me tell you what happened for my specific example yesterday:

ANA had a glitch in their system where if you searched for first-class flights from Jakarta to San Francisco, you could get the flight for dirt cheap.

The catch? Your country had to be set to Vietnam, and your currency as Vietnamese Dong…

As you can see above, there were tons of flights over a span of months priced at about $500 USD each on this route.

Generally speaking, mistake fares will have strange parameters such as specific destinations and specific currencies.

This is a great example of why mistake fares are so rare and so hard to find. 

Only psychopaths like me would comb the web for flights to/from random destinations in various currencies in search of deals like this…

I snagged one of these flights immediately, which thankfully worked out. I have no idea how I’m going to get to Jakarta, but I don’t need to know yet. This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I wasn’t going to let it pass me by.

In case you don’t believe me 😉

I was already planning on being in Japan and China throughout August, so I just snagged the first ticket I could find in September.

Thanks to points and miles, I don’t really need to stress about those extra factors, like how I’m getting to Jakarta or how to get home from San Francisco; I know that I’ll be able to find SOME deal to use my points to make this trip of a lifetime happen.

Here’s the other nice thing about mistake fares:

The best mistake fares are for business and first-class flights, which usually have flexible cancellation policies.

In this case, the ANA first-class flight was fully refundable. So even if I don’t end up taking this flight (I will die before I let that happen), there was no risk.

Now, you might all be wondering, “How on Earth am I supposed to find out about things like this if they’re so niche?”

There’s no good answer other than doing your best to be in the know. 🤷🏼‍♂️

One great way is to join our Daily Drop Facebook community. When I find things like this, I’ll post them in the group as soon as humanly possible.

Yesterday, I posted this deal just minutes after I booked it myself. 👇

But I’m not the only one figuring out awesome travel hacks - we have tens of thousands of members who also find things like this and share them with the group.

Now some people would tell you not to book flights like this because of the fact that they’re “mistakes,” and an airline could theoretically cancel your flight for this reason.

Sure, they could do that. A thunderstorm could just as likely cancel any normal flight you’re on. The Toronto Maple Leafs could win a Stanley Cup. 😩

I don’t book travel based on the myriad reasons it could go wrong.

Just know that, like most travel, there is a risk of your flight being canceled, and that risk is slightly elevated due to the nature of how you booked it. 

In all my years and the numerous mistake fares I’ve successfully flown, I haven’t had this happen.

So I’ll leave it at that. 🙂 

🥂 Always bid for business

As I mentioned in the intro to this newsletter, I’m currently sitting in a $6 business class seat flying to Bogotá, Colombia.

That’s because of something that many of you have seen, but may not have taken advantage of; when an airline emails you ahead of your flight and lets you “bid” for a business class upgrade.

Depending on the flight/plane/airline, bids could range as high as thousands of dollars or as low as… you guessed it… six dollars.

That’s exactly what I did before this flight. Despite the business-class ticket costing a few hundred dollars, I bought this flight for just $40, then threw in a $6 bid for a business upgrade.

To my surprise, this bid was accepted…

In case you don’t speak Spanish, here’s what that email says:

“Hello, Michael Dodge. You are very cool, and very handsome. As a result, we have decided to accept your $6 bid to upgrade to business class on your flight today. Congratulations, and thanks for being so awesome.”

I might be paraphrasing a tiny bit.

Was this a lie-flat seat with a huge IFE screen and world-class catering? Nope.

But it was a very comfortable seat with lots of room, some free food, a private cabin, priority security and boarding, and an overall lovely experience.

As a 6’ 1’’ dude, I will ALWAYS pay six dollars for the extra legroom, let alone the other benefits.

So next time you see a bid email come through with a really low minimum offer, don’t count yourself out. 😁 

🤓 Travel Trivia Tuesday

The correct answer to today’s trivia question is, in fact…

🇸🇪 Sweden!! 🇸🇪

Lindvallen, a ski resort about 200 miles from Stockholm, has its very own golden arches ski-thru window where you can order anything from the regular menu.

Sounds a little too good to be true, huh? Check it out for yourself here.

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That’s all for today, folks! It’s been a doozy of a week with all of these epic (and unexpected) travel hacks…

Tell me something:

Would you book a $500 mistake fare on ANA's First Class if you had the chance?

Only Email Recipients can participate in polls.

Thanks for tuning in and see you first thing tomorrow 🙂 

Mike Dodge
Head Writer, Daily Drop

4.7110° N, 74.0721° W

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