I am a professional flight hacker, here to answer any questions and help you find cheap fares wherever you want to travel. I specialise on flight routes departing from UK and Ireland only, but I'll do my best to assist all!

My short bio: Over the last 3 years, I've been able to visit over 40 countries (currently at 42) by finding mistake fares and wildly cheap deals and on international, mostly round-trip long-haul flights. 8 weeks ago I started a free email alert newsletter sending out cheap flight deals to my mates and in that time it has grown to >2700 subscribers. You can check it out here: Jack's Cheap Flights Club - jacksflightclub.co.uk

Some of my latest alerts over the last couple of weeks have been (all round-trip):

Manchester (MAN) to Boston (BOS) for £200, Edinburgh (EDI) to Canary Islands (LPA) for £31, London (LHR) to Tokyo (NRT) for £272

My Proof: I inserted proof onto my front page here

EDIT RIP my inbox. I'll be on here for a while, but I'm getting them quicker than I can answer!

EDIT 2 Taking a 15 min break. Will be back shortly! Keep them coming :)

EDIT 3 My eyes hurt. Is my landing page still up? 4 hours and counting! I'm grabbing a quick bite and will be back to answer more questions for you

EDIT 4 GOLD???!?!?!??! I've struck GOLD!!! Thank you kind stranger.

EDIT 5 I'm having to call it now, but thank you very much for all the questions and positive feedback. My inbox is completely destroyed. I'll do my best to come and answer as many questions as possible over the next few days. Thank you for all those who have signed up. I honestly did not expect this sort of response. This post has taken me from just under 3000 subscribers to over 45,000 and counting. I'm going to have to look at options of how best to keep sending you my cheap flight deals without going heavily into debt! For any recommendations, shoot me a PM.

Thanks again!

Comments: 2211 • Responses: 49  • Date: 

thepeck1364 karma

Can you tell us how to find these deals ourselves? I am often willing to go anywhere from Irish airports if the price is right

jack_sheldon1067 karma

Flexibility is always key, so you've got that going for you. I'll send out a few flights from Irish airports every month so keep an eye on those.

I've mentioned it in a few posts already, but try a vague search by continent on google flights. Change the month of travel and see if anything strikes you as interesting. Thats the quick answer - I'll be happy to add more detail in a bit, but my inbox is exploding at the moment!

sample search link

AestheticHeretic289 karma

Only google flights? Is this your main search method?

jack_sheldon865 karma

That's one where I spend a lot of time. Google's backend matrix here is a bit more complex but will get you even better results: https://matrix.itasoftware.com/

Once you find a cheap fare on google there are a number of other places to look to make sure its genuinely the best deal. Momondo.co.uk picks up fares from the cheapest agents.

Another option for those that are VERY flexible with the amount of stop-overs is lesser-known kiwi.com. They search a lot more options for each route than even Google and Skyscanner does. The deals I send out tend to be a max of 1-stop unless it's a vastly discounted fare on a 2-stop long-haul.

Also highly recommend the fare alerts on skyscanner.com. I have about 1000 of those set up so far :)

EDIT: One more - if you're booking with a foreign airline, always log into their local sites to see if you can get a cheaper price that way. They often will offer lower prices for locals, but it is perfectly legal to book using that method. A VPN connection is a good idea when looking at local sites. You can try tunnelbear, which has a chrome extension.

bebu6922 karma

Do you think Momondo is 100% reliable? I've read quite a few horror stories regarding these third party booking agencies.

jack_sheldon56 karma

It's not 100% but the savings can be worth it.

I typically stick to a rule whereby if I can save £50 or more by booking with an agent, I do it. Otherwise I try to book direct. Depending on how often your travel plans change, it may make more sense to always book directly with an airline. I typically stick to my plans and try to capitalise on the savings so I'll often book via agents.

Tha_Croat712 karma

What's your opinion about the guy who bought 12,000 pudding cups for 1,2 million airmiles?

jack_sheldon1394 karma

Lad.

coinboy66694 karma

Why would you want to share anything with us? What's in it for you? It seems to not at all be in your best interest. Not only will you increase the risk that airlines will quickly find out, but the benefits of your elite status on airlines will be watered down by a larger population.

jack_sheldon941 karma

Not much in it for me monetarily, but I'm hoping to build a reputation as an expert in the industry. If I find a fare I want to jump on, I'll book it while I write up an email about it. I don't get any commission from my links or deals and don't have any partners.

Airline industry is huge and few of my mates also getting a great deal that I found won't cause anyone harm!

do_you_realise244 karma

Is there any chance that your medium-term plan involves building up a huge, valuable mailing list and using it to promote a future cheap flights website (edit: or that maybe you plan on building up the jacksflightclub site then sell it + mailing list in future for big $$$), and/or selling access to it via third party mailshots? Just that I know the value of such a mailing list these days, and that all "digital marketing 101" advice is to funnel all your early efforts into getting as many people to sign up as possible to your email list.

If that honestly isn't your intention then I'll sign up :)

jack_sheldon268 karma

No short, medium, or long term plan like that. I have no plans to sell your email lists and don't work with any partners or websites. If keeping up the email list gets too expensive, I may include a donation box or something of the like :)

icantseeinthedark489 karma

Where's the best place you have been for the least money and inconvenience?

jack_sheldon1316 karma

Tough one, but I would recommend Sri Lanka.

It's gone through a terrible 30 year civil was less than a decade ago, so it's tourist industry is just starting to boom. What that equates to is cheap rates and a culture not yet accustomed to taking advantage of tourists, like you will see in much of SE Asia. It's also one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited. Landscapes, top notch beaches, UNESCO sites, safaris, they have it all. Highly recommend!

edit: the food is fantastic as well!

JohnCenaThe46th256 karma

Does clearing cookies and/or using incognito really help?

jack_sheldon439 karma

Very rarely and only with the sleaziest of travel agents as far as I've seen. It's mostly a myth, but never hurts to try just before booking!

PoisonvilleKids351 karma

I've run side-by-side tests and can confirm that Ryanair does alter the prices and even availability of flights in this manner.

I know, who'd have thought, of all the carriers it would be these guys ;)

jack_sheldon328 karma

Ah RyanAir. Why am I not surprised it would be them?!

-PotencY-214 karma

Hi Jack

How common would it be to score a deal on a flight from South Africa to anywhere in Europe? I would love to travel, but the standard round trip prices would take up the chunk of one's saving

jack_sheldon204 karma

Depends where in SA. Cape Town is incredibly difficult, while Jo-burg is fairly easy.

I would check out Ethiopean Airline's somewhat new route to London if you're coming from Cape Town. Otherwise, send me a PM with your travel dates and I'll see what I can do!

Inspiration_Bear141 karma

Is there a simple way to benchmark what a "normal" price for a flight is? Is it just looking at the surrounding fares on Google flights, or is there a way to learn historical data too?

jack_sheldon233 karma

http://www.faredetective.com/farehistory/ will give you some historical info on specific flights.

For me it's mainly experience, but its true that it can be tough to tell if you don't know the standard fare. For example a £500 flight to Cape Town is actually a descent deal, but a £500 to Joburg is nothing too special.

heyitsBabble108 karma

What's the best price you've ever found on a flight?

jack_sheldon444 karma

The best I've seen has been an £18 mistake fare to Belize.

The best I've taken has been a £112 single stop roundtrip fare to Bali. It's a special feeling walking onto a flight knowing most everyone else paid 5-8x my fare.

ohhhbegoode96 karma

£18?!? I imagine they found out about the mistake. Were they obliged to fulfill the flight??

jack_sheldon138 karma

They were on that one! Some airlines are forced to by local laws, some try not to upset customers. It's about 50-50 with those fares, but worth trying nonetheless!

Herlock36 karma

I dare question why in the first place their system allowed such a low price.

You would expect upon validation that the system would compare it to similar tickets and say something like "this is 90% cheaper than the average, are you sure you want to proceed ?// Please provide manager override code to proceed" or something like that.

jack_sheldon112 karma

Airlines are getting better at preventing error fares, but the truth is their systems are so complex (and often outdated) that they can't fix them all - which is where I get to take advantage :)

Domin1c80 karma

Let's be real here, you are not really a hacker are you?

jack_sheldon97 karma

You're right - not a hacker by any means. If I were, I'd probably be better at coding and have a nicer landing page :)

It's a term popularised by others in this field and this morning I thought it sounded good. Maybe I was wrong!

alive157 karma

How far into the future do you recommend searching for cheap flights?

What I mean is -- will a flight be cheaper if it's sold on the day of departure, or a year in advance?

I'd love to visit south america (from CPH) some day and find the cost to be high.

jack_sheldon93 karma

Last minute deals arn't going to be very common as airlines try their best to take advantage of business travelers and hike up their last minute rates.

6-12 weeks in advance is the sweet spot, but it varies greatly. For peak and holiday seasons, I recommend looking just as the flights start showing up (typically 11-12 months in advance). For example, if you looked in Sept 2016, you could find a ton of cheap fares to all sorts of southern Europe beach destinations for <£50 for August 2017.

operatorsof55 karma

I am from Brazil, so it's not suitable to sign up for the email list, since you said most of flights are departing UK. Could you please teach me, besides the Google flights technique that you mentioned in previous posts, how could I do to learn it?

jack_sheldon39 karma

Iberia.com often has the best rates to Europe from Brazil. I'll take a look for you later to see what I can find.

I mention a few other methods in the posts up top. If you have particular dates in mind, I recommend skyscanner.com alerts and accessing Ibeia.com from a spanish URL to see if they have any discounts for locals.

LMHT50 karma

I'm currently residing in Ireland, local to Dublin airport.

I'm more in the market for sweet holidays now than before, so I might as well try to get a freebie out of this: Can you find me an exciting deal in 5 minutes? :D

Also; what's the best European country you've been to, and what kind of deal did you land to get there?

jack_sheldon52 karma

on it. It may take me more than 5 minutes to get back to you with my inbox slowly being put to sleep however!

jack_sheldon112 karma

Not a fantastic one, but South Africa for 500 Euro on a 5 star airline (its summer over there and they have tiny penguins):

linky

hdsjulian48 karma

When finding super-cheap deals do you just sorta browse until you hit a gold vein or is there some special methodic approach?

jack_sheldon111 karma

Just browsing can get you lucky fare, but I've developed a methodology over the years to best utilize my time.

I tend to stay away from the big names (Kayak and the like). Google Flights and their back-end search matrix are where I spend ~60% of my search time. I've gotten fairly efficient at it by now!

Hahanothanksman27 karma

Do you do it all by hand?

jack_sheldon45 karma

all manual force at the moment. It's not pretty, but I enjoy it!

the_phet43 karma

Any opinion about sky scanner ?

jack_sheldon66 karma

It's a great tool for setting up email alerts for particular itineraries. It has one of the better interfaces out there for a flight search tool as well.

Overall a good site.

vmunich37 karma

Is it true that you can get different prices based on your IP address?

Also, do you crawl sites like Google Flights and Kayak, or do you crawl specific airline sites like AA, United, Delta, etc?

Esqulax72 karma

Based on your location, yes.
Have a look at https://matrix.itasoftware.com/
If you search for your flight, but change the 'Sales City' at the bottom, you may be surprised. Especially if you change the city to a random country.
Bear in mind, you'll usually have to pay for the ticket in the sales countrys currency, so take those rates into consideration.

jack_sheldon29 karma

Couldn't have answered it better myself!

PMmeFIFA1737 karma

Do you have any favorite countries from your experience?

jack_sheldon91 karma

I mentioned my love for Sri Lanka already. Others at the top of my list would be Ukraine, Vietnam, and Belize.

JournalisticIntgrty46 karma

Feel free to reach out to me if you're there again (Ukraine) so I can buy you a pint of Lvivske (or another beverage of your choice :D). I had a friend who came across some deals like this from Canada to Ukraine in the past, coste $250 CAD round trip, so appreciate what you're doing for everyone!

jack_sheldon21 karma

Thanks for the offer! I'm hoping to come there again next year. Are you in Kiev?

elyl34 karma

SecretFlying do this and put all the flights on their website for anyone to view, as well as Facebook and Twitter.

What sort of flights have you found that I couldn't get on there?

jack_sheldon17 karma

I get the better of them sometimes and they have caught a few that I've missed. I search for UK/Ireland only while they try to manage the entire globe.

It's a good resource that I've recommended on another comment, but the trouble is that they post everything so if you are someone who typically flies out of Manchester for example, you have to sift through 100 posts to find a relevant one. They also only cover the main 1 or 2 airports in each country, so those outside of London or Dublin will rarely see a deal.

My mates like my emails because they go directly to their inbox and are generally relevant or at least from the same country!

aslat33 karma

Why should I sign up if you don't know what flights I'm actually looking for?

Also, do you help out with flights into the UK?

jack_sheldon63 karma

No pressure at all to sign up!

I send out cheap flight fares as I find them to virtually everywhere in the world. Those who seem to enjoy my alerts most are generally travelers open to go wherever there is a good deal. I tend to send out deals for flights months in advance so if you see a fare you want to take advantage of, you have plenty of time to plan for the trip. I send roughly 3-4 deals a week, so you may find your destination on there soon!

If there is somewhere in particular you're keen to travel, let me know and I'll take a quick look to see if I can help out while I'm here.

whatdablood13 karma

How about setting something up that only sends deals for cities that I subscribe for?

jack_sheldon45 karma

Wouldn't mind having it set up like that in the future, however I'm no expert when it comes to application building and such. You can probably tell by my "very professional" website :)

Moonwalker_034 karma

Try also opening up an email list who you only email once a week with all the deals of that week. Or even another option for those who you only email once a month

People are more likely to sign up for those kinds of emails.

jack_sheldon5 karma

The deals I send out are typically time sensitive. Airlines usually catch on to error fares within hours and often drop prices for specific flights for a day or two at most, so I send them out as soon as I find them. It's not for everyone, but if you're after the best deal, you have to be ready to book when one comes around.

0ldS0ul29 karma

Have you run into issues in terms of pricing differences between adult and child?

I'm stressing over money as I have to go from Dublin to Houston in March to renew my kid's passport. I wouldn't be able to book anything till after pay day in a couple weeks but if I could get it sorted before Christmas it'd make it easier for Christmas time in general

Editing to add: from everything I've been looking into, they only renew the passport if you can't actually go back to the states. I'll give it a try sure but chances are I'm going to have to go

jack_sheldon45 karma

Cheaper flights for kids is virtually a thing of the past, with very few airlines or agents still offering a cheaper far. A seat is a seat in their eyes. There are a few websites that offer cheaper pricing for students however.

United and Air Lingus will (sometimes) do cheaper fares to Houston, but it's not common unfortunately. I'll keep an eye out for you!

devshan9514 karma

What do you mean by "professional flight hacker"? Do you get paid to do this?

jack_sheldon8 karma

I don't get paid. I'm not really a hacker. I have helped companies streamline their spending on airfare before and am hoping to expand on a career within this industry.

justscottaustin11 karma

Do you do any US domestic flights or have recommendations on where to go for a resource like yours that does?

jack_sheldon24 karma

My alerts are currently geared towards flights departing from UK and Ireland, but I do send out deals for flights going to the states. There are a few twitter feeds that I could recommend for you Yankees. Shoot me a PM :)

_Buff_Drinklots_10 karma

Have you found any deals that ended up being too good to be true? As in, cheap flight advertised but they did not deliver on their advertisement. Any tips on what to watch out for, that would be a red flag to not trust the advertisement?

jack_sheldon30 karma

It's not so much false advertising, as reluctance to honour mistake and error fares. The airline industry is quite complex (which works in my favour!) so if you know where to look you can find quite a few mistake fares. Some get honoured, but other times booking agents find a way to get out of it and renege on the deal.

I always recommend waiting up to a week before booking hotels and other reservations if you do catch a mistake fare.

Lunco9 karma

Do you ever mentally cringe describing yourself as a hacker?

jack_sheldon7 karma

After today, yes.

I find cheap flights. No hacking involved :)

olivertwiztedd8 karma

Do you use web scraping to find these flights? If so do you have any tips?

jack_sheldon11 karma

All manual force! I've become quite efficient at it, so an hour or two a day and I'll find something worth sending (or booking!)

Manley_pointer5 karma

What's the best way to find cheap business/first class flights?

jack_sheldon15 karma

I typically search for economy class fares as I'm looking to spend the minimum. I've sent out 1 business class deal in the last 8 weeks, but will keep an eye out.

Best way to get those is generally points from credit cards. Airlines make a disproportionate portion of their revenue from charging up business class fares, so it's rare to score a cheap deal otherwise.

TheWhoreWhisper5 karma

Ohh, perfect timing! I'm looking for the best/cheapest way to get to Amsterdam then Kiev (not necessarily in that order) from Halifax, NS then home again. I've noticed it seems cheaper to fly to Dublin then go from there. Any tips, tricks, or website recommendations?

jack_sheldon15 karma

Sure! When? I can take a look right now.

As for tips, with a particular route like this one, I would set up an alert on www.google.com/flights. Enter your exact route and ideal dates. Then set an email alert for price changes on those dates. If you are flexible, I would enter 10 different dates and set an alert for each one.

Winter is a great time for cheap flights to/from Canada and Holland so you should have an advantage if you are going soon!

SleepMaster424 karma

Sweet signed up! Do you have any tips or a guide of how you can learn this for yourself? Also do you think price comparison sites like skyscanner are good or no?

jack_sheldon20 karma

Skyscanner can be useful, but has it's limitations. They are good for price alerts however if you have a specific itinerary you'd like to follow.

Learning to use google.com/flights and their back-end matrix efficiently https://matrix.itasoftware.com/ can get you fantastic results. Most of my searches start there.

Tacoman4043 karma

Do you happen to know the cheapest way to get to mainland Europe from BDL or BOS? Preferably not landing in Turkey.

Also, why is it so cheap to land in Turkey?

jack_sheldon5 karma

Istanbul airport has undergone some attacks recently which has hit Turkish Airlines fairly hard and they've had to drop their rates. For always-cheap routes, Norwegian airlines will get you to Europe via London. Otherwise right now is a great time to look for fares as winter prices are always cheap and the dollar is strong. Many options from Boston via Amsterdam or Paris.

quick search for you: https://www.google.com/flights/?curr=USD#search;f=BOS;t=r-Europe-0x46ed8886cfadda85%253A0x72ef99e6b3fcf079;d=2017-01;r=1W;mc=e

psychuil1 karma

Do you think someone from Israel has a point signing up? In my experience we don't get many cheap flight in\out.

jack_sheldon5 karma

Monarch.co.uk often have cheap roundtrip fares to Israel, so I imagine you'll find some cheap fares to UK from there as well. I specialise in and send out flights deals from UK/Ireland at he moment however.

CHvader1 karma

Is this only for the UK? I live in mainland Europe, will most of the details coming in be only in/out of UK?

jack_sheldon1 karma

Currently just UK and Ireland, but I may try to do more Europe deals in the future someday :)

Jak1031 karma

Could you find cheap fares to Chile for 3 weeks leaving from London in late March?

jack_sheldon2 karma

on it. Stay tuned!

Salimbo1 karma

What is the best time to go to Tokyo? (From the UK)

jack_sheldon2 karma

I've sent out a couple of UK to Tokyo deals in the last few weeks.

Spring is the best time to go to see the cherry blossoms and KLM/Air France have some good rates off an on so set a skyscanner alert or two for price drops.

Go0s3-5 karma

How do I ensure my seat doesnt have cum stains?

jack_sheldon3 karma

don't fly RyanAir