COVID-19 Leading to Rise in Mistake Fares, Peak Season Flight Deals

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has put a hamper on air travel but one of the unexpected effects has been a spike in mistake fares and peak season deals, according to new data from airfare tracking service Scott’s Cheap Flights.

Scott’s Cheap Flights has seen a doubling in the number of mistake fares or accidental discounts, including flights like NYC to Sao Paulo for $290 nonstop roundtrip and Boston to Puerto Rico for as little as $23 roundtrip on holidays like Christmas and New Year’s.

For March-April 2020, Scott’s Cheap Flights recorded seven mistake fares compared to just three during the same period last year and zero during March-April 2018.

“With airlines doing major surgery to their schedules, one side effect has been a spike in the number of mistake fares,” said Scott’s Cheap Flights Founder Scott Keyes, in a statement. “Though these fares don’t often last more than a few hours, hundreds of eagle-eyed Scott’s Cheap Flights members have been able to scoop up once-in-a-lifetime deals, including New Year’s in Puerto Rico for less than a tank of gas.”

Scott’s Cheap Flights also reports a 50 percent increase in deals for the peak summer and holiday seasons compared to 2019.

The service reported 21 peak summer deals and 10 holiday travel deals over the course of March-April 2020 compared to just 12 and seven for the same period in 2019, respectively.

“In normal times, airlines have relied on summer months and Christmas/New Year’s as their cash cows, much like retailers and Black Friday. But with bookings down and airlines uncertain about when exactly travel will return en masse, they’ve been forced to do the unthinkable: offer cheap peak season flights,” added Keyes.

“Until passenger counts begin rebounding in a significant way, I’d expect this trend of more mistake fares and more peak season deals to continue.”

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