Incredibly low or no-cost airfare prices, often called "fat-finger" fares, are out there. They don’t come up too often, but they’re there – you just have to know how to catch them. We've all heard the stories: cheap international flights from San Jose to Paris for $27.98; coast-to-coast roundtrip fares on US Airways for $0.88; Delta Air Lines fares from Washington to Maine for $0. These ridiculously low or no-cost airfare prices, the result of some type of error – typographical or otherwise – sound too good to be true. But they indeed existed and many who spotted them were able to book them.
Can you really fly for free or next-to-nothing?
You’d better get your lucky charms out because these kinds of deals – err, mistakes – don’t pop up often. When an airline posts an unbelievably low airfare price, it's most likely an error of some type. If you do stumble across such a fare, it may already be too late to jump on it considering most errors are often fixed in a matter of minutes. And even if an airline honors cheap airfare prices of, say, $0, you’ll still have to pay fees and taxes, which can add up.
Do airlines and ticket sellers have to honor the incorrect fares?
Technically, no. San Francisco travel attorney Alexander Anolik says courts have ruled that companies do not have to honor an airfare price "if a reasonable person would recognize [that] it was a mistake." But some companies will honor the airfare price as a good-will gesture for their customers. In 2002, for example, Travelocity posted an Air Pacific flight from L.A. to Fiji for $0, plus $51 in taxes and fees. Travelocity honored the airfare prices for an undisclosed number of fliers.
How can you get the cheapest airfare?
You could spend hours online in the hopes of stumbling on cheap airfare. But there are more reliable ways to save money on airfares. Spend just a few minutes on Cheapflights.com to find the best airfare deals on your route. And to ensure that you don't miss out on last minute travel deals, sign up for our free Deals Alert e-Newsletter and let the best airfare prices find you!