There are some really absurd prices showing on Air China's flights from Vancouver to various cities in China, including Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Dalian, Guangzhou, and Harbin.
These airfares are only bookable through a large booking site based out of Norway, called Wideroe, and the fares are obviously a mistake price.
You might be asking yourself what the odds are of these mistake fares being honored, and you would be wise to do so. You see, the thing is, a few days ago the same site, Wideroe, was displaying mistake fares from New York to Milan for $130. Many U.S.-based mistake fare insiders took advantage of this, and by all accounts, those fares are being honored, and tickets were issued by the airline.
When it comes to mistake fares, you want to follow these three simple rules:
1. Never call the airline or the site displaying the mistake fare. Ever.
2. Book it online, and hope a ticket# is issued by the airline. Note that what you are hoping for is an actual ticket # from the airline, and not a confirmation # from the booking site, which means nothing. When you get the actual ticket # from the airline, your booking is solid.
3. Don't make any accommodation bookings for a few weeks until the dust settles and it's clear that your booking is confirmed
So with that in mind, here's how you can try your luck at getting these ridiculous airfare prices...
1. Go to http://www.wideroe.no/en (the English version of the site)
2. Click on the tab in the top right corner of the screen to change your currency to USD (U.S. Dollars)
3. Search for a flight from Vancouver to a city in China, such as Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Dalian, Guangzhou, or Harbin.
4. Use a departure & return date in March 2014. There may be other months this will work, but I've had success using March dates.
UPDATE 1: See comments section of this post for info on what dates appear to be working. Kindly share what you find to help others.
UPDATE 2: After every search, the following message now appears: 'International flight booking is not available at the moment due to technical update.' My guess is that they had to shut down taking new bookings while they investigate, due to the popularity of this mistake fare.
UPDATE 3: Dec 2nd - People are reporting that the Wideroe search is working again, and seeing flights for under $400. Be sure to try the 'Alternative Dates' option immediately after your search for a table of date combinations that might have cheaper prices. I just tried Vancovuer to Shanghai, March 21 to April 01, and it came up as $394.
UPDATE 4: Dec 3rd - Error message is now showing again after a search between Vancouver and cities in China. 'For the moment booking between these destinations is not available due to technical updates. '
UPDATE 5: Dec 4th - A big thanks to YVR Deals member JP who has found a way to get around the 'technical update' search problem. Here's how...
Search Vancouver to a city that is NOT in China on the main page (Vancouver to Paris for example)... this will bring you to a page with flight prices that are still expensive. Click "View alternative dates" on the right above where the flights are listed. On the next page click "Flight" at the top left of the table, this will bring you to a page where you can search again. Replace CDG in the destination field with PVG (the airport code for Shanghai).
Enter your dates, only some work (April and May worked the best). Select the 'My dates are flexible' option and then hit Search. It should come up with a table of dates, many of which are $391. Then just play around until you find some dates that work for you. Note that this may work for other cities in China besides Shanghai (prices will vary), but you'll need to know the 3 letter code for the airport.
So instead of entering PVG which is for Shanghai airport, you would enter one of the following (the 3 letter airport code is all you need to enter)...
CAN - Guangzhou
CKG - Chongqing
CTU - Chengdu
DLC - Dalian
HGH - Hangzhou
HRB - Harbin
KHN - Nanchang
KMG - Kunming
PEK - Beijing
SZX - Shenzen
TAO - Qingdao
TNA - Jinan
WUX - Wuxi
XMN - Xiamen
UPDATE 7: Dec 4th @ 1 PM - The deal might truly be gone now. People are reporting that even when using the trick above, you may get a confirmation e-mail from Widero, but will no longer be receiving the 2nd e-mail with a confirmed ticket #.
Tip: For those having issues with a 'country code' error in the mobile phone field, enter +1 (with the plus sign) for your country code.
Here's a screenshot of an example search from March 6 to 16, from Vancouver to Shanghai (PVG)...
And yes, that is the total roundtrip price, even though it's displayed over the outbound flight.
There are no guarantees that these mistake fares will be honored, all you can do is try and cross your fingers. Typically it will be obvious within a week or so whether all is fine or not.
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