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For years I’ve subscribed to fare deal sites that find and publish the details on both sale and error fares. Last year I booked one of the first sale fares sent to my inbox from The Flight Deal. It was a domestic itinerary from the Bay Area to Atlanta for the rock-bottom price of $154 (SEE: My first win with “The Flight Deal”). However, the error fare had eluded me (SEE: 4 reasons why you’ll miss out on the next mistake fare). I’d had the opportunity to book a few, but the timing and details to take advantage of each simply made them too much of a hassle. The other issue was that I really only want to book something using Ultimate Rewards, as spending $600 out of pocket for a business class deal is still $600 out of pocket.
But all that changed when I read a tweet from Gary Leff about an amazing Alitalia business class deal from Barcelona to Los Angeles. Shortly thereafter, he published a post.
Booking an Alitalia error fare with UR
I quickly found a set of dates that would work the best for a potential trip. Since our spring is pretty full (SEE: Travel Planning: penciling in the first half of 2019), I pushed it out as far as I could with an October departure and early November return. The outbound (essentially a return, since it is ex-BCN) is a Monday, which will let me fly a Thursday or Friday outbound for a quick couple days in Barcelona (or Andorra, if I depart Thursday and am feeling adventurous). The return (to BCN) is on a Wednesday 16 days later.
This was about the only window that made sense. I figured I would have no luck booking through the Chase portal, but lo and behold, the fare was there. And for a similar price. The total came to 38,688 Ultimate Rewards points (at 1.5 cents per point using my Chase Sapphire Reserve), about half of a similar one-way ticket in business class using a number of mileage currencies.
So I booked it. There seemed to be little downside. Worst case scenario: it gets cancelled. Second worst case scenario: I can’t fly the return from California to Barcelona, so I only get one weekend trip out of the deal. Still an amazing deal.
I was able to log into the Alitalia website (which was actually a whole lot less terrible than I expected) and select seats in business class. The flight is on a 777 between FCO and LAX, and the seats are lie-flat in a 1-2-1 configuration in business class. I selected window seats in the European “business” cabin for the short hop between Barcelona and Rome.
Now all I need to do is play wait-and-see with Alitalia and Chase to see if the fare is honored. If it is, I’ll be booking a United hop from LAX to ACV and a Norwegian flight from Oakland to Barcelona, although this might not be the wisest choice (SEE: Is this the end of Norwegian Air?). Gotta make sure I have trip cancellation on that one as well! Then I’ll decide if I want to fly the “return” and make two trips out of this. I may just skip the second segment, as a business class tickets for ~39,000 UR points one-way is still amazing.
If I do fly the whole thing, though, I’ll rake in a whopping 35,000 Delta Skymiles, 20,000 MQMs and over $5,000 MQDs. Interested in chasing down your own error fare? Here are a few pointers.