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What are Ghost Fares in Airline Flight Ticket and Why They Appear on Websites

Ever wondered why sometimes, you may see inaccurate prices for flight tickets on online travel websites, and flight search tools as well? If you did, you may have just got yourself a ghost fare. An online travel agencies (also called OTA) or your regular flight search tool might display prices for flight tickets that are nowhere near the cost of what these sites are actually, supposed to sell you. This travel guide will help you understand more about ghost fares and how you can find correct fares without any difficulty.

In this blog, we will uncover certain facts about the existence of the so-called ‘ghost fares’ which you may often see on websites that allow you to search for and book flights.

What is a Ghost Fare?

Sometimes, flight searching websites may show you airfares which are not current or up to date, and their availability is uncertain, too. Thus, such fares that you see on travel websites are referred to as “ghost fares”.

Simply put, in such cases, you don’t see real-time results, rather, you are served with pre-stored information that the website fetches from its source (or sources) via caching.

Why Do We See Ghost Fares on a Travel or Flight Searching Website?

In order to know why we may see a ghost fare on an online travel website, first it is important that we understand how these online travel agencies (OTAs) and flight search tools provide you prices for flight tickets.

Basically, a website uses the method called a “cache” (or web cache) that is used primarily to store information of the data that is fetched from online sources, for example, an airline carrier’s database. Websites make use of cache for querying requests that are made by users or consumers like you and me. The results then, are fetched from the cache and displayed on your device’s screen, instead of directly reaching out to the source’s database. So, by using web cache, these online travel and flight search websites are able to provide you prices for flight tickets.

However, because web cache stores data for the purpose of fulfilling users’ queries faster, it may sometimes, display outdated results, and may also produce error messages. This is how you come across seeing ghost fares at times.

Caching makes sense on various grounds and therefore, their use is pivotal. In other words, with the help of web caching, the results can be displayed much faster because the website does not have to go back to query a source’s database over and over again (called real-time) each time a user needs to find something online. This further saves a lot of time and money to such websites since repeated queries can cost these sites additional expenses.

So, when you do a search online for booking flight tickets and see unusual prices, know that it’s not your web browser that’s acting up. Rather, it is the website’s outdated cache that’s showing you inaccurate results.

How to Identify Ghost Fares on Flight Booking Websites

There are certain things that will immediately give you a hint that the airfare you are seeing on a particular website is a ghost fare and not the airliner’s current price.

There is a possibility where one or more websites that allow you to book flights online may display ghost fares. However, these sites will also advise you to contact the respective airline carrier by providing their customer centre toll-free numbers right next to the outdated airfare. Or, in other cases, you may see a message saying that the price for the flight ticket is not available.

These are common hints which indicate that the website is displaying results for your query through its outdated cache, instead of fetching the current prices directly from the airliner’s database.

If you see a considerably lower or higher airfare for a flight on an online travel website or a flight search site, you should contact the airliner carrier. The airliner’s reservations desk will assist you with booking your desired flight and paying the actual amount.


If in future, while booking your holiday or business flight online via a travel website, you see unusual fares appearing, or perhaps, no fare appearing at all, know that it’s just a ghost fare. But, you can deal with this situation as we have already mentioned above.

There are many people that rely on the internet for booking their flight tickets because it’s quick and easy. However, when things don’t turn out as they should, you will need a second option, and that is, making your flight bookings directly by contacting the respective airline carrier’s customer centre.

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