Want to travel the world without spending too much money on flights? Of course, who wouldn’t? The problem with that is that you’d need to spend the entire day monitoring flights from various companies to find the cheapest ones. It means spending a lot of time on something that you may not find.
What if there’s an alternative? Actually, there is one, and it’s called Secret Flying, and I’ll be taking a look at it today. I’ll dive into the good and bad and outline a few alternative services that should offer similar results.
What is a Mistake Fare?
Before I explain what Secret Flying is, I need to define one thing: “mistake fares.”
Mistake fare or afare, depending on who wrote the article, is a cheap flight ticket, much cheaper than the regular price. The mistake fares happen when there’s an error in the ticket pricing, meaning that you can end up with a big “discount.” There are several reasons why mistake fares happen.
The first and most common one is human error. In modern times, the ticketing system of most airlines is fully automated. Despite that, it can happen from time to time that a person may need to do something manually. In some of these cases, a dirt-cheap flight may result from a simple human error.
Another less common way a mistake fare may come up on your radar is with currency conversion. The way it happens is through the fuel surcharges that airline companies charge. The idea behind them is to avoid profit losses due to the constantly changing fuel prices. Many argue that it’s not fair, but there’s nothing we can do about it. In any case, the constant change in oil price combined with a currency conversion can lead to a mistake fare.
Software errors are common, but not that common in these modern days. Despite that, occasionally, an airline’s system may get “confused” and pump out a reduced price on a specific destination. Even though they are quickly sorted out, you can grab a ticket for several hundred dollars cheaper if you’re quick enough.
What is Secret Flying?
Based on what I’ve explained above, you should get the idea of what Secret Flying is. It is a service that enables you to find these ultra-cheap flights without spending hours looking for them. Essentially, Secret Flying is an aggregator for mistake fares.
The app has been around since 2014, developed by Tarik Allag, who probably had the same idea as you or me – to avoid spending hours looking for mistake fares. Initially, the service was paid, and there were 3 plans, but after a while, the creator decided to make it free to use, which is how it is today.
Secret Flying can be used as a mobile app, and there is also an option to get notified of mistake fares through email or social media. For a specific destination, you’d need an account to set up the filter and get explicitly notified for that one.
How does it work?
As I said, Secret Flying is an aggregator that collects all mistake fares from various airline companies and lays them out for you. You can go on the website and search manually for flights, or you can customize that and get a notification for specific deals. If you decide to go for the second option, you will need to create an account and download the app on your phone. That way, you will get a push notification, and you can purchase the ticket instantly.
The signup process is simple, and since it’s free, you will be paying only what the ticket costs and not a penny more.
Is the Secret Flying App Worth It?
Secret Flying is worth it, but it is far from the perfect service.
Initially, the service was made so that it only showed mistake fare flights. The problem was that there are often very good discounts on certain flights and in those cases, you wouldn’t know about it. Recently, the discounted flights were added to the service, so now it feels like a complete package.
In terms of the discounted flight tickets, you have all the information available, like dates, price, class, etc. One thing that some people criticize Secret Flying is in terms of how that information is acquired. In some cases, the team behind it stumbles across a discounted flight and published it on the site; in other cases, they rely on some of the competitive services. The critique is mostly about not crediting the competition for being the first to find that info. Some may not think too much of this, while others may see it as a deadly sin.
Another area that could use a bit of work is the mobile app. It is available for Android and iOS, which is nice, but it can get a bit glitchy at times. It’s not the worst experience I’ve had in the world, but I think that a bit of fine-tuning would do wonders for it.
Frequent travelers will find the hotel section of great use, as it offers pretty much the same service. There are tons of discounted hotel offerings listed on the website for you to choose from. To fine-tune the results, you can use the search option and see if there are any discounts for the destination where you just purchased your super-cheap tickets.
Secret Flying Alternatives
Secret Flying didn’t invent the wheel, so there are plenty of other options available as well. There are plenty of alternatives, and I’ll mention my top 5 picks.
The Flight Deal
The approach to The Flight Deal is similar – aggregate cheap flights. The difference is that the criteria for a certain flight to be published is that it shouldn’t cost more than 6 cents per mile. On top of the free option, there is a paid premium membership that unlocks more features, but I believe the free one will suffice for most people. Apart from the cheap flights, you can also look at hotel, car rental, and credit card deals.
Air Fare Watchdog
With over a decade of experience in tracking down cheap flights, AirFare Watchdog has become a reputable service in this niche. Everything is run by real people, which can be a positive thing, mainly because in these services, the human factor can be a deciding one. Letting a few lines of code decide what is a cheap flight may not yield the best results. Unlike some of the other alternatives I’ve mentioned, this one deals strictly with airline flights. It is free to use, and if you are after some specific destinations, you’ll need to create an account and set up a filter to get notified via email.
Error Fare Alerts
Comprised of a 4-membered team, Error Fare Alerts is a service that is more inclined to offering mistake or error fares to its customers. Using it is a 3-step process, where you either download an app on your phone or sign up, set up the destination you want, and sit back and wait. As a bonus to the highly cheap flights that the service offers, you also have the option to search for hotel discounts.
Unlike the rest of the alternatives here, Flynous seems more like a blog than a company offering cheap flight services. There is hardly any information on who’s behind it, nor a way to reach out to someone. Despite that, the website is constantly updated with several new deals per day. While it lacks some refinement when you need to look for something specific, it’s clean and easy to use.
The story with Next Vacay isn’t any different than the others. A team of very well-versed researchers is behind the service where you can either go through the current deals or sign up to request a discount for a specific flight. To ensure that everything is fast, the system will find a deal, and the team will verify it. Once that happens, you get a notification, and you can purchase the ticker right away.
What is the difference between a discount and a mistake fare?
The mistake fare is an error that the airline makes. It provides you with a way to travel to a destination for a fraction of the price. In many cases, these don’t last too long because as soon as the airline notices that a specific destination gets purchased a lot, it will notice that there is something wrong with the price.
Discounts, on the other hand, are flights with cheaper prices than usual. These aren’t a product of someone’s error; instead, the airline deliberately sells them at a lower price for various reasons.
Is it safe to purchase a mistake fare ticket?
It depends on what you consider safe. You will purchase the ticket from the airline, so you won’t get scammed or pay for something that you won’t get. Despite that, there is a slight problem with these kinds of tickets.
In some cases, the airline may decide to cancel the tickets, and even though you paid for them, you won’t be able to use them. The money will be refunded, and in some cases, the airline may even give you a bonus card, but at the end of the day, the ticket will be invalid. To avoid problems, once you purchase the ticket, wait a few days and see if the airline canceled it. To double-check and be 100% positive that the ticket is good, you can reach out to the airline for confirmation.
My recommendation is not to book hotels or pay for a car rental before the airline confirms that the ticket is valid. Once it does, you’re good to go on your next traveling adventure