When I’m looking for cheap places to travel, I will usually do this: first I’ll research a destination I’m interested in and then I simply search for cheap flights on Momondo or Skyscanner (see my tips for finding cheap flights).
But lately I’ve followed another approach: I’ve let the cheap flight deals come to me instead.
If you’re as crazy about finding cheap flights as I am then you may already know of this service, but if you’re not aware of Scott’s Cheap Flights I highly recommend becoming a subscriber.
It’s a mailing list service that regularly sends out incredible flight deals. The best part is that these are not ads or paid promotions from airlines, but they’re simply great hidden deals that you probably wouldn’t find if you were just searching for them yourself.
What is Scott’s Cheap Flights?
The team behind Scott’s Cheap Flights spends endless hours every day trying to find hidden promotions and error fares, then send you alerts when they’ve found a sweet deal.
I’ve been subscribed for a little while now and I regularly get incredible e-mails like this:
Return flights from Amsterdam to Guatemala for 228 EUR? Be still my beating heart!
Here are a just few other recent deals I got:
As you can see, some of these flights are eye-poppingly cheap. Others are like 30 – 40% below the normal price, which is still pretty darn amazing!
In case it’s too small to read, these deals include return flights from London to Costa Rica for just £269 (!), and direct return flights from Europe to US & Bangkok in the €300s (!!). (Keep in mind these are just some examples from Europe as that’s what I’ve set my alerts to, but you can get flight deals from anywhere in the world.)
So why are these flights so cheap?
Well, a lot of these opportunities simply come from airlines trying to fill seats with special offers. But in some cases they may also be so-called error fares, which are mistakes is the reservation systems that led to accidental low fares. With error fares, it’s recommended to wait at least a couple of days to make sure the airline will honour the low price, but they usually do.
You can get some alerts for free by signing up at Scott’s Cheap Flights. You can also sign up for a paid annual subscription, which gets you more deals that free subscribers don’t get. It also lets you select which airports you want to fly out of. (This post is not a promotion, by the way. I’ve just used the paid subscription myself and want to tell you about it.)
Since I’m based in Portugal I’ve set my airports to Lisbon and Porto (of course), but also added Madrid which is relatively close by, plus Amsterdam (where my family lives) and London (where I used to live and which is always a nice hub to fly into). If you enter at least a few good starting points, you’ll get a lot of interesting deals, which you can combine with cheap flights from budget airlines like Easyjet or AirEuropa (if you’re in Europe) to complete the itinerary.
Being a subscriber of this list feels like having a personal assistant scour the web for the latest deals.
Since Scott’s Cheap Flights is funded through the paid subscriptions (and not through advertising) the tips are always totally independent and include any and all airlines.
What’s the catch?
There has to be a catch, right?
Well, yes… kinda.
You have to be able to decide fast, as these deals tend to disappear in a few days.
Usually, you also need some degree of flexibility. Flights might depart from a distant airport or require a stop at someplace weird. The error fares sometimes force you to backtrack, e.g. head east before heading west, which may feel a little counter-intuitive.
But if you can live with a longer journey time (sometimes just a few hours more) then you’ll surely not mind paying peanuts for these tickets.
What can be annoying sometimes is that the alert will tell you the cheap tickets are broadly available between, say, February and April (and it will give you an example link to Momondo), but when you search for them yourself they are nearly impossible to find. Getting the flight you want can require a bit of patience.
What about Secret Flying?
Another popular deals and error fares website is Secret Flying. They often have some of the same deals (I’m sure they’re often copying each other).
I recommend both of these sites though I prefer Scott’s Cheap Flights because it sends you emails, while I always forget to check Secret Flying. By the time I see something on Secret Flying, it’s usually already gone!
Scott’s Cheap Flights has 100,000+ subscribers at this point so it’s by no means a secret (and neither is Secret Flying), but if you book quickly you can snatch up those cheap tickets before anyone else will.