“Mistake Fares Are Real”? Yes — But…

In order to take advantage of a “mistake fare”, you may need to position yourself to the starting point — in this case, two train rides from Basel to Berlin to Warsaw before catching a flight to Kuala Lumpur via Istanbul on an airplane operated by Turkish Airways. You may also need to stay at a hotel overnight before even boarding the aircraft. Photograph by FlyerTalk member want2fly4less. Click on the photograph for a trip report written by want2fly4less.

I was in the car with Howie Rappaport — who writes for Frugal Travel Guy — as he was talking to FlyerTalk member beaubo about his upcoming itineraries while FlyerTalk member HMPS was graciously driving us to the airport in Chicago, navigating through inclement weather after yet another successful Chicago Seminars…
…so it is no surprise to me to see an article written by Howie whose title is Mistake Fares and Mileage Runs Are Real — and, admittedly, much of what he writes is indeed true.
Read the comments posted there, however. As of the time this article was written, readers were asking two questions: how much did his exploits cost him; and why did he not share the “mistake fare” with others who may have wanted to take advantage of it?
Sharing a “mistake fare” is a difficult line for “bloggers” to straddle: should they keep what they know about “mistake fares” unpublished so as to preserve them for a longer period of time — or should they post them while they are still active so that as many people as possible could take advantage of them and potentially endanger the opportunity by having it shut down sooner as a result? Additionally, should the “blogger” sacrifice a secret in exchange for a significant increase in reader traffic — or should he or she preserve that secret for the sake of fellow frequent fliers to have a chance to secure that elusive “mistake fare”?
I discuss in greater detail more about the dilemma “bloggers” face pertaining to “mistake fares” here — to the point where they are being accused of ruining FlyerTalk.
In fact, there are FlyerTalk members who so want to preserve “mistake fares” for as long as possible that they have called for limiting the visibility of perishable Mileage Run Deals content to registered FlyerTalk members only and shielding them from search engines and non-members of FlyerTalk; and that the Mileage Run Deals forum and its sub-forum Mileage Run Discussion be masked from users who are not registered and logged in to FlyerTalk.
As for cost, a “mistake fare” may not always be the bargain which you might think: as I posted in greater detail here, there are other costs which you need to consider when attempting to take advantage of a “mistake fare.” Positioning airfares or redemption of frequent flier loyalty program miles — to get you from where you are based to the starting point of the “mistake fare” — as well as the cost of lodging at the destination are only two of many costs to consider…
…and let us not forget the time and effort you need to expend to ensure that the “mistake fare” actually works in your favor — as well as the potential damage you might incur on a relationship with a significant other or loved one who simply does not understand.
With regard to “mileage runs”, I posted my thoughts here only yesterday. I am definitely not what anyone would call a “mileage runner” or a “mattress runner” by any stretch of the imagination; nor am I interested in becoming either one.
Still, do not let me discourage you from attempting to secure a “mistake fare” when the rare opportunity arises. When a “mistake fare” is active, follow the credo of booking it as quickly as possible and figuring everything out later — especially whether or not taking advantage of a “mistake fare” is worth it to you. Although there was one “mistake fare” several years ago which was not obvious but good enough to book which I ultimately had to cancel — but not without a great amount of difficulty, as I almost thought I was going to be forced to travel on that “mistake fare” itinerary — usually airlines will refund what you spent on that “mistake fare” with no questions asked despite the fare rules if you are not offered a different deal.
“Mistake fares” may be real — but they may cost you more than you might think and may not be the bargain for which they are known…

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