I’ve got the world’s best job (and it’s all thanks to Reddit): I’m a professional cheap flight finder.

Five years ago, Reddit helped take Scott’s Cheap Flights from a hobby to a side-hustle to a job to now a start-up with 40 people and growing.

(If you're curious you can check out Scott's Cheap Flights here, but zero pressure. Honestly!)

To say thanks, once a year or so I like to pop in and spend the day talking cheap flights and answering all your questions, travel or otherwise. And also to celebrate Redditor’s success stories getting cheap flights, including:

(If you’ve been able to book a cheap flight recently give a shout in the comment section—I wanna celebrate with you!)

And now, after years of being asked “what’s your secret to finding cheap flights?” I finally got my shit together and compiled everything I know into a book out next week, Take More Vacations: How to Search Better, Book Cheaper, and Travel the World.

One of my goals in this book was to cut through the BS misconceptions that get parroted elsewhere as cheap flight advice, like “clear your cookies” or “book on Tuesdays at 1pm.”

Instead, the way I’ve been able to travel to places like Milan for $130 roundtrip and Japan for $169 roundtrip (and help millions of SCF members get cheap flights as well) is not through useless “hacks” but by changing the entire strategy of planning travel.

More than anything, my goal with the book is to help readers avoid the regret that so commonly plagues older folks: “I wish I’d traveled more when I had the chance.”

Among the myriad topics I get into in the book (and happy to discuss here!):

  • How the way you’ve been searching for flights leads you to overpay (and how to do better)
  • All the steps you can take even when you don’t have flexibility
  • Why expensive fares are optional now that we’re in the Golden Age of Cheap Flights
  • Why big cities get the most deals but small cities (think Dayton, Ohio or Cody, Wyoming) get the best deals
  • How to take the perfect vacation, according to science
  • The basics (when to book, where to book, etc.) and advanced tips (mistake fares, 24-hour rule, building your own layovers, etc.)
  • Commonly believed myths, from searching in incognito to dressing nicely for an upgrade to flying being better back in the day
  • Why cheap flights don’t just save you money, but lead to more and happier trips

Other current topics I’m glad to speak to if you’ve got questions:

  • Europe travel for Americans this summer
  • Vaccine passports fact & fiction
  • Will fares go up as the pandemic wanes? (Spoiler: No! Don’t let them trick you into overpaying!)
  • Mistake fares (like $63 roundtrip to Chile or $309 roundtrip to Morocco, both in the past year) or why airlines occasionally sell $202 roundtrip flights to Japan
  • Whatever questions you’re curious about!

Proof I’m Scott: Hi!

Proof I’m a cheap flight expert: Recent media coverage from Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, New York Times, Business Insider, and the Washington Post.

Love you all,


P.S. We’re hiring! Seriously like half my coworkers came via Reddit.

UPDATE #1: Chugging through answering as many questions as I can in loosely chronological order.

For folks wondering about Business Class flights, I've got some good news: it's coming. Sign up here to get notified when it launches ----> https://scottscheapflights.com/elite-signup

UPDATE #2: Sorry for breaking Reddit :( Looks like we're back online and I'm on my 3rd pot of coffee powering through more questions. Here all day!

UPDATE #3: If you're ordering a copy of Take More Vacations—(thank you!!)—bonus points and good juju if you buy from a local independent bookseller. My local Portland favorite is Powell's; you can find local booksellers (including online sales) through IndieBound.

UPDATE #4: Alright y'all I better go take a break and go be a good husband/father/dogfather. I'm obsessed with y'all so I'll answer more questions tonight and into tomorrow. Keep leaving them below and I'll get to as many as I possibly can! <3

UPDATE #5 (May 5th!): Because you all are so awesome and so many great messages, I'm back here this morning answering whatever travel (or other!) questions you've got. Leave your questions and I'll continue responding throughout the day!

Comments: 2472 • Responses: 60  • Date: 

Tmurray27911497 karma

Any plans to make an app? I've been using the service for about 3 years now and I love it but I feel like my inbox is overflowing as a result.

Edit: Scott, blink twice if Brian is holding you hostage and keeping you from answering this question.

Fiyel792 karma

I got a cheap japan flight but was under the impression travel there isn't allowed, also flight was cancelled. Am I missing something?

scottkeyes758 karma

Not allowed to travel there today, but that deal had availability all the way through March 2022 (early cherry blossom season, hello!) when travel will almost certainly be permitted.

Update: Here are my on-the-record falsifiable predictions from 1 month ago about when various places would begin opening up. My prediction a month ago that Europe would open up in June was ridiculed at the time, and has since proven exactly right.

That's not to say my prediction that countries in Asia will begin allowing in vaccinated Americans in October will assuredly be correct as well, but (a) if you disagree I'd love to hear your specific prediction, and (b) if you wait to book future flights until the reopening date is announced, you may be paying for that certainty. The cheap flights could be gone by then as everyone rushes to book.

joshlamm651 karma

Compression socks are my best tip for 10+ hour flights. What's your best long distance travel tip?

scottkeyes1161 karma

Ohh I like that one.

Pack a pen in your carry-on to fill out any immigration forms on board and breeze past everyone who forgot and is furiously filling theirs out right before the arrival customs line.

konanTheBarbar346 karma

Are there any plans to support European home airports?

scottkeyes409 karma

Ahh we used to but had to pull back :( we just didn't have the man/woman power to feel like we were doing a good job covering flights departing everywhere around the world. that's why we made the decision to pull back and just cover flights departing 168 US airports, but it was a hard and sad decision, and we're hoping to come back someday.

Mendoza_Loki257 karma

According to science, what is the perfect vacation?

scottkeyes651 karma

your *next* vacation

aptek173 karma

Hi Scott! Been a member for like three years after seeing one of these AMAs. My question is where do you see your start up going in the next few years? Is there room for expansion? Or is the size/skills of the team kind of stable for the goals of the company?

scottkeyes248 karma

Ahhh you're awesome u/aptek, appreciate you!

One of the funny things for me about this whole experience is, unlike most aspiring entrepreneurs, I'd never (ever) thought about starting a company. I was just a guy who loved finding cheap flights and sharing what he found with his friends.

As such, I didn't initially approach this whole thing with a 5-year-plan. It was all very reactive for a while. But thankfully my co-founder Brian (way smarter than me) was visionary and saw how SCF could grow beyond just the simple flight alerts we've been doing.

We're building some *amazing* things behind the scenes right now that I so wish I could divulge right now but I can feel Brian's white hot glare on my neck even thinking about it right now. But short answer: we're absolutely building some really fun new stuff behind the scenes, there's tons of room for expansion, and we're still growing (hiring!).

lurker2918155 karma

How do you feel about the future of points & miles post-covid? Do you expect to see a devaluation? More generally speaking, do you even mess with loyalty programs, or are you upgrade-agnostic and just look for the cheapest possible flight?

scottkeyes196 karma

It's funny, I started out in the points & miles game, and then transitioned into more a cheap flight lover. (Though to be clear they are highly overlapping circles.)

We'll definitely see more devaluations—that's the easy prediction—but precisely when is harder to say. Airlines survived the past 12 months thanks in large part to mortgaging their loyalty programs. But devaluations may not materialize in broad ways (there have been small ones from like Delta and Southwest) until 2022.

I definitely mess with loyalty programs, got a whole section of the Pro Tips chapter of Take More Vacations about points & miles. Love the churn game. But if I'm being completely honest, that game was far more valuable before the Golden Age of Cheap Flights (2015 onward) because now cheap flights are so damn plentiful it's become much more accessible for us average joes. But if you're hoping to fly biz class, for instance, points & miles still by far the most affordable way for non-wealthy folks to do it.

Pres-Bill-Clinton146 karma

What is the #1 mistake people make when purchasing a flight?

scottkeyes701 karma

Saying they want cheap flights but then making it the last priority.

One of the lessons I go over in Take More Vacations is that the normal way of searching for flights has it completely backward if you're hoping to get a good deal.

Normal way:

Step 1: Pick where you want to go
Step 2: Pick when you want to go
Step 3: Check airfare

By setting airfare as the last priority, is it surprising that we end up getting some pretty expensive flights?

Instead, if you're hoping to get a cheap flight (and be able to take 3 vacations for the price you used to pay for 1) take that same 3-step process and flip it on its head:

Step 1: See where there are cheap flights available from your home airport
Step 2: Pick one of those destinations
Step 3: Pick when you want to go

Set cheap flights as your top priority, not your last priority.

DonnaCheadle164 karma

So basically go somewhere with cheap flights rather than go to the destination you had in mind?

scottkeyes24 karma

That's part of it, while also recognizing that today's expensive flight may be tomorrow's cheap flight. Be patient when flights are expensive to places you want to go, and pull the trigger quickly when they drop cheap to those same places

Kaye324103 karma

What recommendations do you have for when 'cheap' is your second priority'? ie. Kids school/child care vacation schedules dictate the reality of the first priority. Destination can be flexible, but what's the best way to search in these scenarios?

scottkeyes90 karma

Oh yes, I'm in the same boat with a young daughter.

The good news is cheap flights aren't just for young people with full flexibility. They're for all of us! In fact it's such a central question that I ended up devoting an entire chapter of the book to everything you can do to still get cheap flights even when you don't have flexibility.

In general there are 3 main buckets of flexibility:

  • Where you go
  • When you go
  • When you book

While you don't have flexibility on #2, you've got flexibility on the others, which if properly utilized will go a long way to ensuring you get cheap flights and don't wind up overpaying.

kunderthunt142 karma

Hi Scott. Early in the pandemic i nabbed Philadelphia to Australia fights for something like $240 round trip. I was unbelievably excited, told my girlfriend, started planning. Four days later i got a credit to my bank account for the same amount I paid and an email from Air Canada saying they would not honor a ‘mistake fare.’ I was extremely upset and called and got the mega-runaround from their agent. Too late now and it’s water under the bridge but do you want have any suggestions for me or any folks who experience that again? Maybe some way to get SOMETHING out of it since the error is entirely on the airline? Thanks!

scottkeyes109 karma

Ughh I am so sorry the airline did you dirty like that. Even though only 10-15 percent of mistake fares get canceled, it's always so frustrating when it happens.

Knowing the what/how/why about mistake fares before the next one pops up is the best way to get the next one, and then it's just hoping that deal is in the 85-90% that get honored rather than the minority that get canceled. I devoted a whole section of the book to mistake fares, but then here's some more info on them here if you're curious: https://scottscheapflights.com/guides/mistake-fares

TitsAndGeology139 karma

How do you feel about the connection between air travel and the climate crisis?

scottkeyes127 karma

Many thoughts! In fact I devoted a whole chapter of the book to flights & emissions, and how I think about personal responsibility vs. collective action on something as massive in scale as climate change.

It's a bit hard to do justice to an entire chapter in a quick Reddit comment, but in short:

  • climate change is very bad
  • air travel accounts for 2-3% of global emissions
  • unlike, say, home heating or cars, there's currently no viable renewable alternative (at least until electric planes really ramp up over the next few decades)
  • the cheaper your fare, the less culpable you are for your flight's emissions. that's because expensive fares incentivize airlines to add additional flights to a route, but when you pay $200rt to visit Japan? that's not giving the airline any extra push to fly more planes on that route if they're having to sell off seats currently for $200 roundtrip

saiven116 karma

Talk to me about cheap flights with kids. Traveling with kids is its own challenge and I'm often willing to spend more to avoid a kiddo meltdown. So how can I get the best deals knowing that kids are involved?

scottkeyes257 karma

Ahh I've got a 2yo myself, definitely a new challenge!

A few thoughts:

- Cheap flights are all the more important when you're buying additional seats

- If you're traveling long-haul and you've got a lap infant, get the bulkhead seats. They have bassinets on board available *free* but they only attach at the bulkhead.

- One other tip: checked bags for adults cost $$, but checked car seats (which you can put in an oversized bag) are free. If someone were to point out that there's space for a bag inside the larger car bag, they wouldn't be lying...

KathChalmers183 karma

Yes! The $20 car seat travel bag on Amazon will easily hold the car seat, two weeks' worth of diapers, and 3 bulky winter coats.

scottkeyes78 karma

yessss parent hacks

SAM10892 karma

How do you see the Airline industry adapting to a post Covid-19 world? Also, what is your personal stance on vaccine passports?

scottkeyes367 karma

I got my 2nd shot a few weeks ago and I almost cried I was so happy. I'm *so grateful* to the scientists who were able to develop a miracle medicine so quickly and help accelerate the end of this godforsaken pandemic.

I think the general discussion of "vaccine passports" has been largely overblown because we discuss them like they're a "Do Not Enter" sign when, in reality, they're much more like an E-ZPass Lane. If you've been vaccinated, you can fly to Greece this afternoon, and if you haven't been vaccinated, you can also fly to Greece but you'll need to jump through more hurdles like bringing a negative test.

The airline industry is going to endure some tough times for the next few years, not because travel will continue to struggle, but because business travel will struggle. Airlines make the disproportionate amount of their money from biz travelers, so with them largely sidelined for months/years to come, airline profits look rough. (This is why you often see headlines about "airline industry won't recover for 3 years"—that's because their profits won't recover. It doesn't mean us vacationers won't be able to find good deals, and on the contrary, the deals are even more plentiful with biz travel sidelined.)

whats_a_weasel91 karma

Hey Scott! Been a member for quite a few years now. (I was able to take my grandmother on her first international trip to Spain and Portugal for her 83 birthday because of SCF!!)

What has been the best deal YOU'VE taken advantage of and what has been your favorite place to travel to over the years?


scottkeyes102 karma

whoa that's dope!! *love* awesome family trips like that.

the best deal I've ever personally bought was the NYC-Milan $130 roundtrip flight I got years ago that kicked off this whole crazy Scott's Cheap Flights thing.

picking a *favorite* place is like picking between your children, but since I've only got one kid I'll gladly do it: Japan and interior Mexico (Mexico City, Puebla, Oaxaca)

doublewhiskeysoda56 karma

Scott, thanks for all your work! I really appreciate it.

I’m American (from Georgia) and so my home airport on Scott’s Cheap Flights is ATL - but I’m only there during the summer months because I’m a teacher and I work abroad. I actually live in southern Africa for most of the year. I’d like to get deals from my local or regional hub to other places.

Will SCF begin including international deals as well - that is, flights within Africa (or Asia or Europe or wherever)?

scottkeyes62 karma

hey thank you for the kind words!

we had in the past covered deals departing all over the world, but we realized it was stretching us extremely thin as a company trying to support everywhere. so we ended up pulling back and just covering flights departing 168 US airports, flying anywhere around the world, but not flights originating elsewhere.

hoping to get back someday once we're built up a bit more—when that happens we'll email ya to let you know!

Andychives34 karma

Hey Scott, I got in on the phx to Tokyo for $225 so excited. You previously scored me a $290 to Barcelona! Thanks!

My question for you is what trip/locale is your elusive golden goose? Where do you want to go that you can never seem to go?

scottkeyes39 karma

Hell yeah!! Good on you for jumping on those deals, nicely done.

Socotra. It's an island off the coast of Yemen that has the most fascinating and other-worldly looking flora. Absolutely at the top of my someday/maybe list.

theking_of_quedle29 karma

Hola Scott! Currently living in Barcelona and trying to get back to LA this summer to see family for the first time in almost 2 years. Do you think airlines will restart non-stop services to/from major hubs in Europe this summer or will we continue to have 20+ hour travel with layovers for the foreseeable future?

Also my parents subscribe to your site and send me ridiculous flight info all the time so thanks for everything you do!

scottkeyes25 karma

Yes absolutely! Especially on a route like LA-Barcelona there will definitely be more nonstop flights available soon as Europe travel opens up. Airlines (especially US based ones) had largely trimmed their schedules of long-haul international travel to places not open to most tourists, so as those border restrictions begin fading in May/June, expect more nonstop flights added to the schedule.

Tell your parents thank you/they're awesome!!

orvn26 karma

I’ve been a subscriber for a few years! However, I’m just over the border in Canada. We understood the decision, but were a little unhappy when Scott’s Cheap Flights removed Canadian airports as outbound locations (in 2019, I think).

It was also a little insult-to-injury-esque how, a couple of months later, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver were each featured as a fancy destination for American travellers.

I still subscribe with some US airports as my base, but driving/flying over there would often negate the savings I get from the deals you find, not to mention make the experience significantly more cumbersome.

What advice do you have for Canadians seeking cheap flights out of one of the three major cities I mentioned above?

scottkeyes21 karma

Aww thank you for the kind words, even when you have right to feel a bit miffed. We felt terrible shutting down deals departing Canada, we just didn't have the man/woman power to feel like we were doing a good job covering flights departing everywhere around the world. that's why we made the decision to pull back and just cover flights departing 168 US airports, but it was a hard and sad decision, and we're hoping to come back someday.

The biggest thing in terms of getting cheap flights out of those airports is to switch up your strategy to put cheap flights as the top priority rather than the normal way of searching that puts cheap flights last. Take More Vacations is all about how to put yourself in a position to get more cheap flights (no matter what country you live in!) but at risk of responding to your heartfelt comment with a salesy pitch, please DM me, I'd be happy to get you a copy of the book on the house.

NantesWunderkind23 karma

Hi, Scott! Thanks so much for doing this AMA. With fuel prices back on the rise and some travel restrictions being lifted, do you expect to see higher fares for flights this summer/fall? Would now be a preferred time to buy for that timeframe or is there a better way to capitalize on optimum fares?

scottkeyes74 karma

Great q.

First the bad news: Cheap flights for this summer are starting to fade away, it's true. But the thing is, summer flights will get pricier because that’s what they *always* do, in large part because all the students/teachers/families who can only travel around the academic schedule. Summers are for airlines what Black Friday is for retailers.

So if you're hoping to travel this summer and want a cheap flight, time is of the essence.

But into the fall and beyond, cheap flights will stay very, very abundant. I could go on for days why, but here's 3 reasons:

(1) If a resurgence of demand = pre-covid airfares (which it generally will), we should be so lucky! We've been in the Golden Age of Cheap Flights since 2015. The pandemic didn’t cause cheap fares. The pandemic *illuminated* cheap fares. $350 roundtrip to Europe has long been common.

(2) Travel demand is rebounding, but so is supply. There are still hundreds if not thousands of planes parked in the desert, waiting for enough demand to warrant being brought back into service. Increased demand = increased supply, not expensive flights.

(3) There's one important lesson to remember anytime someone mentions "fares are going up." You can’t book average fares. You can only book *available* fares. Your neighbor may pay $1,000 to Hawaii—raising the average fare—but who cares? All that matters is how often sub-$400 flights pop up. (They'll continue!)

Cloaked42m21 karma

It's May the Fourth on Taco Tuesday. How do you plan on celebrating?

scottkeyes74 karma

i plan on celebrating in EXTREMELY WHOLESOME AND LEGAL WAYS (nice try feds/Zuck)

gstdog17 karma

Has the way airlines operate post-COVID changed how you approach looking for deals? Are there 'tricks' that used to work that don't anymore? New opportunities that you've discovered?

scottkeyes52 karma

The pandemic changed a number of things about airfare:

- Domestic flights got cheaper bc airlines took all the large jets that were flying overseas and added them to domestic routes

- International flights by-and-large got more expensive bc airlines slashed the number of planes flying overseas

- During the height of the pandemic, the pricing on last-minute flights inverted. Whereas traditionally last minute flights are quite expensive, with biz travel zeroed out and vacationers unwilling to book travel more than a few weeks in advance, airlines started pricing last-minute fares cheap rather than expensive. Unfortunately, things have largely re-normalized on this front with travel rebounding

Technical-Amoeba-66714 karma

Why is Atlanta so expensive for flights to Europe?

scottkeyes29 karma

it's not always expensive. one of the cheap flight lessons is that airfare isn't stable, it's extremely volatile. today's expensive flight may be tomorrow's cheap flight, and vice versa.

in fact, there was a deal not that long ago from Atlanta to Amsterdam that was:

  • Monday: $800
  • Tuesday: $300
  • Wednesday: $1,300

the exact same flight, exact same dates, etc.

Ahhhh amazing! Congrats!!

but to the extent of why Atlanta doesn't get more deals, it's largely because the Delta monopoly tamps down competition and prevents more deals from popping up.

ancientflowers11 karma

Hey Scott-

I'm curious about the hiring. I've worked as a technical recruiter and an Account Manager. Are you expecting to grow that much in the next year that you need to add a full-time recruiter?

Edit: I also just wanted to add that this is what an AMA is supposed to be. You're actually responding to people and going on 7 hours now!! Thank you!

scottkeyes3 karma

very kind of you to say, thank you!!

yes absolutely! in fact we're hiring for a full-time recruiter right now: https://scottscheapflights.com/careers

Pipekinesis10 karma

Hey mr. Scott, what you gonna do? What you gonna do? make our vacations come true 🎶

scottkeyes12 karma


ImreCamorri9 karma

Hey Scott, I’ve been a customer for 2 years and have loved the service. You pulled me out of the pandemic slumber through two awesome deals - I’ll be flying to Alaska and Hawaii in the summer. What are the top spots for visitors like me that loves to spend a couple weeks in a region/city, walk the off beaten path, explore local culture and cuisine, etc. (as opposed to resort-style destinations)?

scottkeyes9 karma

i so so love that—thank you for the kind words!

my favorite gems for really exploring places (non-resorty): Kyoto, Oaxaca, Taiwan, and Rotterdam. just my own favs though, there are so many out there and the wonderful thing about Taking More Vacations [;-)] is that you can try out more and more places, finding those hidden gems as you go, rather than taking 1 trip a year and confining yourself to the crowded traditional favorite tourist spots

sabira9 karma

Hi Scott! In terms of the perfect vacation, what are any ideas that you have for a couple with slightly different travel preferences (one prefers more calm and relaxing activities, while the other is drawn more to action and adventure)?

scottkeyes12 karma

Ahhh great question! I love that you've recognized your different styles—one of the things I get into in the book is the more trips you take, the better you get at realizing what parts of travel appeal to you as an individual rather than what appeals to the average tourist (Disney World, etc.).

In terms of specific ideas: Australia/New Zealand certainly fit the bill, as does Hawaii, St. Lucia (you can climb the Pitons or snorkel while your partner chills at the beach!) and some parts of Costa Rica.

DamnitRandy8 karma

Hey Scott, any tips on for getting cheap flights in Canada? Airfare here is ridiculous and it sometimes seems impossible to get cheap flights, thanks!

scottkeyes14 karma

You have my sympathies, Canada is one of the worst places for cheap flights (especially domestic flights).

I think you'd really get a lot out of the book. The principles in Take More Vacations are universal (not just for Americans) in how to strategize and put yourself in a position to get cheap flights when they pop up. But at risk of being salesy (which I hate) if the cover price is too much DM me and I'll see about getting you a copy on the house.

Mike99987 karma

Hey Scott, why did you stop doing flights from Canada? I was subscribed for a couple years but they stopped a few years back

scottkeyes4 karma

Ahh I'm really sorry :( we just didn't have the man/woman power to feel like we were doing a good job covering flights departing everywhere around the world. that's why we made the decision to pull back and just cover flights departing 168 US airports, but it was a hard and sad decision, and we're hoping to come back someday.

sleepslady7 karma

The EU is accepting vaccinated travelers from the US this summer, do you know if this also applies to Switzerland? Also, what if the adults traveling are vaccinated, but the children are not? Thank you for doing this AMA!

scottkeyes16 karma

Great questions!

Switzerland hasn't announced for sure yet, but I'd be quite surprised if they don't allow in Americans this summer.

As far as unvaccinated kids, basically everywhere (including Europe) that gives a fast lane for vaccinated parents is also allowing in unvaccinated children, but you'll almost certainly have to bring a negative test for them.

Good luck!

tn_notahick5 karma

Thanks for all you do! I'm a subscriber and scored an amazing deal last November for a trip to Santiago, Chile in August of this year.

2 tickets $62.05 each ROUND TRIP from Atlanta.

This was a mistake fare, and as far as can tell, the tickets are still valid.

My questions:

  1. From your experience, if these types of fares get cancelled, when does that happen?

  2. If we can't go to Chile in August (not looking good with COVID restrictions), what could happen? Will they just refund my $104.10? Or do you think they may offer a change of date?

Thanks again!

scottkeyes7 karma

Amazing! Congrats on snagging that deal!!

(1) Basically always within the first 7-10 days. You're definitely in the clear on this one. (2) If you can't go, you'd likely be offered either a refund or to change the dates. The key with a date change though is that they don't try to charge you the fare difference, because everything will be more expensive than $62 roundtrip! Give the airline a call if August isn't happening and plead your case, it's generally the squeaky (though polite) wheel that gets the grease with flights

DW70005 karma

Thanks Scott! Love your service!

Any advice on hotel costs? My wife and I love to travel and wish we could use cheap flights to travel to random cities every other week, if only we could figure out how to keep hotel costs down. Even with a dirt-cheap flight, $150/night for lodging adds up pretty quickly. Any advice for people like us who are too old for hostels and too picky for cheap motels?

scottkeyes10 karma

hey thank you!

hotel points and credit cards are certainly one way that i've been able to keep travel costs down, but it's not a panacea. otherwise i'm a fan of hotwire's hidden hotel feature where you can book, say, a 3-star hotel in a specified neighborhood at a hidden discounted rate, and then find out afterward what specific hotel it is.

ImTonyPerkis4 karma


Is there a correlation between cheap flights/bad flight experiences? If you’re paying average-above average for a flight, are you not also paying for a smoother experience?

Also, cute dog.

scottkeyes11 karma

Nope! This is one of the biggest mistakes people make, thinking cheap flights = bad or inconvenient flights. That's one reason we don't send deals on Spirit or with an absurd number of connections; cheap flights are only good if it's a flight you'd actually want to take, after all.

Aww thank you!

kmac7864 karma

Hey Scott, been a member since I saw one of these a few years back...still the best thing I’ve ever come across on Reddit!

My question is do you think machine learning, AI, and other tech will eliminate super cheap (especially mistake fare) flights? As airlines get better systems with more technology checks

Also thanks for helping me book tickets from NY-Hong Kong for lantern festival next year for $360!!! Did tokyo for 550 last year over the Christmas new year holidays as well!

scottkeyes5 karma

awww I'm seriously blushing!

I'm not terribly worried about AI eliminating cheap flights. I think AI has decreased (though not eliminated) the number of mistake fares we see, but most deals, including that recent $202 roundtrip Japan deal, are fares the airlines intend to sell.

Congrats on all those trips, amazing!! My wife and I got engaged on Victoria Peak

you-cant-twerk3 karma

You got any more of them $200 japan flights?

Also been subbed for years. Ive never left the US. Hardly left CA. My family never traveled and I'm scared. I love what you do. Keeps me inspired to one day say, "Screw it" and buy a ticket somewhere.

scottkeyes3 karma

true story I grew up in the same town as Dave Chappelle. was at his first Block Party, etc. he's just a townie like us, awesome guy.

appreciate your kind words! as soon as the next great deal to Japan pops up believe it we will find them and let you know ASAP.

BrewerMan3 karma

Hi Scott! Thanks for all the cheap flights over the years. We had our wedding in Germany in December 2019, right before the apocalypse. With your emails and inspiration from you and TPG we were able to start our own mini newsletter to our wedding guests with cheap flights to our wedding. Your inspiration allowed my now wife and I to fly to and from Munich on business class with points. Our guest list doubled to 54 people when our guests started realizing that flying to Germany was cheaper than flying cross country. Most of our guests were able to get RT flights to Munich for under $350!

Our honeymoon to Japan on Delta Premium Select was chosen because of one of your emails but unfortunately has been rescheduled six times so far. Thankfully Delta has been matching the fare class on all the reschedules so far. Currently scheduled for October, do you think 6th times a charm?

PS, we are taking an in-the-meantime honeymoon to Hawaii (Japan lite) in 2 weeks because of your recent Hawaii deals! Hoping that one sticks, haha.

Also, a suggestion. You should provide wedding or event services like I described for my wedding. I would have gladly paid for your expertise when I was doing that for my guests. The 200+ Google flight notifiers and daily price checking got overwhelming but it did double our guest list so it was worth it.

Thanks again for the help and inspiration, you helped so many join in our festivities and helped create so many memories!

Edit: Just realized you got us the first flights to Munich in 2018 when and where we got engaged, thanks again again!

scottkeyes3 karma

Ahhhh bless you that is so amazing! Congrats on all those amazing Germany deals, love it!

I don't think an October trip to Japan is out of the question by any stretch, but it's gonna be close. At this point my best guess for when Japan re-opens for vaccinated tourists would be sometime in the October-December range. Not a high degree of confidence at this point though, we'll learn more in the next few months what their plans look like and how reopenings in Europe and elsewhere go.

Appreciate your passing along those ideas, very helpful. Thank you!

kieranblieran3 karma

Hi Scott! Been a premium member for 4+ years now and it’s my favorite subscription. Just looking at cheap flights without booking is exciting. But obviously booking is even better (Japan in November for $250 🤞🏻)

Question regarding mistake fares: when you send mistake fares out, you always clarify the chances of the fare not being honored and the flight being canceled, but that chance is “low”. I’ve booked 3 mistake fares in my time (South Africa 2017, Australia 2020, Portugal 2021), and all 3 were cancelled within 2 weeks. Did I just choose the wrong mistake fares to book? Or is the mistake fare system hard to take advantage of when thousands of people are made aware of it via email?

Not a complaint, love what you guys do!

scottkeyes2 karma

Ahhh thank you so much for being such an OG member! Appreciate you!

Not at all, it's a great question. And I'm sorry that the airlines canceled those tickets on you, it's always a kick in the pants, one I've gone through many times myself. I think you've just had a string of bad luck to have 3 mistake fares canceled. Typically 85-90% of mistake fares get honored, but obviously that's far from 100%. It sucks when there's cancellations, just hopeful the airline does the right thing next time, as they usually do like with the $63 Chile mistake fares, $560 biz class Asia mistake fares, etc. etc.

Dimew1s33 karma

Scott! I have been subscribed to your cheap flight alerts for years now, and have taken the following trips as a result:

•Houston -> Amsterdam ($300) Aug ‘17

•Dallas -> Puerto Rico ($100) Jan ‘20

•Austin -> Lima ($350) May ‘18

•Austin -> Costa Rica ($300) Nov ‘21

•Dallas -> Tokyo ($250) Jan ‘22

Those last two were booked in the last month, with Tokyo being the most impressive deal to date. I can’t thank you enough for the work you do.

My question to you is this: what is your worst travel horror story/mishap?

scottkeyes2 karma

Ahhh you are amazing!! Even making me jealous with all those travels—well done!

My worst travel mishap was when I took a bus to a sleepy southern Portugal beach town (Faro) and showed up at 2am with no reservations, only to find every accommodation in town closed. I wound up sleeping under a streetlight in the marina, big spooning my backpack. No reservations = a young man's game.

objectsubjectverb3 karma

Is the method for cheap economy flights different than cheap business or first class flights? If so, what are some tips specific for first class you’ve learned?

scottkeyes2 karma

The same general principles apply whether you're searching for economy fares or first class. The main difference in my mind is that there's big quality variations in first class (depending not only on the airline, but also on the plane, route, etc.) whereas at least for non-Spirit international flights, economy quality is fairly consistent.

mor-leidr3 karma

Hi Scott,

I have a 2 questions:

  1. How would you convince a partner who is reluctant to travel (who has watched far too many movies that depict travelers as easy prey for mass murders in other countries, etc.) to travel more often?
  2. What recommendations would you give to someone who has had major health problems, but still would like to travel? For example, I suffered a stroke at 36 a few years ago, and as a result I'm on a whole host of medications, including having to use a CPAP machine. But I still want to travel as often as possible (and have been medically cleared to do so.) So I'm curious how having all these medications, a CPAP, as well all the other effects of being a stroke survivor, would effect traveling?

Thanks for taking the time to answer all these questions. I hope you're having a fantastic Tuesday. I'm looking forward to checking out your book.

scottkeyes4 karma


(1) I'm not a psychologist so this isn't expert advice per se, but if my partner were reluctant to travel out of safety concerns, I'd take them to Japan. Not only is it an incredibly safe country, it really feels like it more than anywhere else I've been. I'd hope to ease them into realizing people around the world have a shared humanity, and once you start to actually personally experience those connections, hopefully the desire to see more will bloom.

(2) Ahh my sympathies for what you've had to endure, but good on you seriously for keeping the travel bug alive through it all! My one piece of advice would be to get good at the points & miles game, because while it takes some time to learn and practice it, points & miles are by far the most affordable and accessible way for non-wealthy folks to access the comfy biz class seats on long-haul flights. They're not terribly difficult but they're not intuitive either, which is one reason I devoted a whole section of Take More Vacations to demystifying points & miles.

Good luck! Appreciate you!!

redbarron_582 karma

How do you make money off of your service?

scottkeyes3 karma

We don't take kickbacks or commissions from the airline. We're funded by members who pay for the Premium version of Scott's Cheap Flights

ghdawg61972 karma

Hi! Member for 3 years and recent acquirer of the Japan fares! Why do the airlines leave these low/mistake fares up for so long? I can't help but wonder how United/ANA had $200 roundtrip fares to Japan, which totally seems like a loss price point for them, up for DAYS before they rose to normal levels. Was it intentional, or did someone just not notice?

scottkeyes3 karma

Amazing! Congrats!!

That particular deal popped up because of a fare war between American and United. They kept underpricing one another tit-for-tat until fares bottomed out at $202 roundtrip from all over the US to Japan. Just incredible. The fact that it was an ongoing days-long fare war is why we were 100% confident it wasn't a mistake, whereas if a random $200 roundtrip flight to Japan popped up out of the blue today, that would likely be a mistake fare.

Poundchan2 karma

What country would you recommend for a first-time solo traveler?

scottkeyes2 karma

Backpacking in Western Europe (Amsterdam, Paris, etc.). Great place to adventure while also somewhere that will be more familiar to the US for your first solo trip

wolfielocks2 karma

I’m looking at booking travel within Canada this year. What’s the best way to get a cheap flight that’s also refundable?

scottkeyes8 karma

Refundable airfare is *way* more expensive than standard non-refundable fares. And domestic flights within Canada are,,,not friendly to the cheap flight lover.

My main piece of advice if you're hoping for a refund on a flight you've booked is to take advantage if there's a schedule change. When you get that email about a schedule change from the airline, recognize that for what it is: an opportunity to switch (free!) to a more convenient flight, or get a full refund. They may not say so explicitly, but if you give the airline a call and explain why the new flight schedule doesn't work for you, you'll almost always be able to switch or get a refund.

ONeillReddit2 karma

Do you think we’ll see a lot of implementation of vaccine passports country to country or is that more just fear mongering talking points?

scottkeyes8 karma

we already are, but honestly the discussion is largely overblown because we discuss them like they're a "Do Not Enter" sign when, in reality, they're much more like an E-ZPass Lane. If you've been vaccinated, you can fly to Greece this afternoon, and if you haven't been vaccinated, you can also fly to Greece but you'll need to jump through more hurdles like bringing a negative test.

Dionolibredeldinero2 karma

What are the odds of my June Italy vacation happening? Even if it’s open, how do I figure out if it’s worth going?

scottkeyes4 karma

pretty high. I've got flights booked to Spain in June so I'm in a similar boat.

whether it's worth going is more of a personal decision. expect less indoor dining and other stuff, but outdoorsy things should still be plentiful, and you may not see the same crowds you'd normally expect in June.

poopdidiscoop2 karma

Hey scott! Been a member since your last ama. Thanks to your emails my husband and I were able to spend more on doing things in canada like eat at a blind restaurant than wasting it on the flight. My question is, what was your favorite trip you've taken/ best thing you experienced? Thanks again for the great vacation!

scottkeyes6 karma

ahhhh amazing! appreciate you!

my favorite trip was a vacation to Puerto Rico where, on the beach one day minding my own business, I randomly met the woman who would go on to become my wife :)

rubiks_cube0401 karma

Hi Scott, I was sad when you stopped offering your services outside of the US. Any chance you'll expand to cover other countries again?

scottkeyes2 karma

Ahh I'm really sorry :( we just didn't have the man/woman power to feel like we were doing a good job covering flights departing everywhere around the world. that's why we made the decision to pull back and just cover flights departing 168 US airports, but it was a hard and sad decision, and we're hoping to come back someday.

RaigonX1 karma

I was supposed to go to Japan from United States last year but covid ruined that. Now I’m afraid to go this year then get there and Japan makes me quarantine or almost every thing is closed. I’m getting my second moderna shot this Friday.

Anybody know if Japan is good to go to still?

scottkeyes5 karma

Ahh my condolences—a bunch of my coworkers also had Japan plans waylaid during the past year.

The Asia-Pacific region seems to be on the most delayed timeline. Fwiw, two months ago my prediction was that Europe would largely open in June and Asia-Pacific would begin opening around October. Europe prediction seems to have been accurate (if not a bit conservative!) but more uncertainty around Asia right now. Thailand is explicitly targeting an October reopening, but haven't yet heard specifics from Japan. But if you're thinking a 2022 trip (even by January/February) the likelihood that that's still not possible seems quite low in my mind.

Congrats on getting your 2nd dose, so exciting!!

stinky_girbil_bum1 karma

Congrats on the success Scott. I’m more interested how you got into developing Scott’s Cheap flights? I’m also curious about a number of other things; How long did it take to get where you are now? What did you do before? How tough was it to work and develop Scott’s Cheaps flights? Do you have any advice for someone who is also trying to start a side hustle with hope of turning that into a full time job?

scottkeyes6 karma

Hey thank you!

It was all one big happy accident. I was working as a political journalist covering everything from elections to homelessness to voting rights to marijuana, but I really wanted to travel too. I was making $34k/year and doing my best to pay the bills, but traveling to Europe on normal $1,000 flights was completely out of the question. I wound up basically studying airfare for years, watching its twists and turns and figuring out new strategies for getting cheap flights.

It all culminated in 2013 when I got (still to this day) the best day I've ever gotten in my life: nonstop from NYC to Milan for $130 roundtrip. After that trip, all my friends and coworkers kept bugging them to tip them off next time I found a great deal. I decided to start a little email list so I could let everyone know at once. Scott's Cheap Flights was born in that moment, but I didn't know it yet. It was just a hobby for 2 years or so, until 2015 when it grew large enough I graduated out of Mailchimp's free tier and I started thinking how I could try to recoup the $50/month Mailchimp wanted to charge me and just breakeven. Only at that point in 2015 did I flip the switch and become a professional cheap flight finder.

I feel supremely unqualified to dispense entrepreneurial advice (I never intended to do this, and as such, have take zero business classes in my life) but the one thing I'm glad I did was be highly cognizant of the failure rate of new start-ups, and didn't put all my eggs in one basket. Instead, I built slowly, waiting to see overwhelming product-market fit before really going in on this whole cheap flights thing.

ramielaxe1 karma

Hello Scott. I've been a subscriber for a while and have never seen any deals from Phx to... Well anywhere. Any advice for what I'm doing wrong?

scottkeyes1 karma

Hmm can you email us ([email protected]) to check on your account? PHX has gotten a few dozen deals in the past 3 weeks alone (though remember all the deals go to premium members, just a small handful go to limited members)

tinkytink101 karma

Thanks for this Scott! What are your tips for searching for the best fare when you have to fly on short notice?

scottkeyes6 karma

Short notice is probably the most difficult situation to still get cheap flights, but a few levers you can pull:

(1) Search on a meta-search site like Google Flights rather than directly with the airline (2) If you're flying domestic, be sure to search Southwest.com separately (their fares don't show up on meta-search sites) (3) Check Skiplagged (be sure to read the FAQ!) for hidden city tickets (4) If you've got miles, they're often a good deal on last minute flights (5) Check nearby departure airports (6) Check nearby arrival airports (Philly for an NYC trip, for instance)

curahee56561 karma

As the airlines ramp up after Covid, do you see a trend of them also ramping up their prices?

scottkeyes2 karma

I don't! In fact, I think the opposite will happen: the Golden Age of Cheap Flights that we've been living in since 2015 will continue.

that's the assumption a lot of people make, but here's why I think it's not something to worry about.

First the bad news: Cheap flights for this summer are starting to fade away, it's true. But the thing is, summer flights will get pricier because that’s what they *always* do, in large part because all the students/teachers/families who can only travel around the academic schedule. Summers are for airlines what Black Friday is for retailers.

So if you're hoping to travel this summer and want a cheap flight, time is of the essence.

But into the fall and beyond, cheap flights will stay very, very abundant. I could go on for days why, but here's 3 reasons:

(1) If a resurgence of demand = pre-covid airfares (which it generally will), we should be so lucky! We've been in the Golden Age of Cheap Flights since 2015. The pandemic didn’t cause cheap fares. The pandemic *illuminated* cheap fares. $350 roundtrip to Europe has long been common.

(2) Travel demand is rebounding, but so is supply. There are still hundreds if not thousands of planes parked in the desert, waiting for enough demand to warrant being brought back into service. Increased demand = increased supply, not expensive flights.

(3) There's one important lesson to remember anytime someone mentions "fares are going up." You can’t book average fares. You can only book *available* fares. Your neighbor may pay $1,000 to Hawaii—raising the average fare—but who cares? All that matters is how often sub-$400 flights pop up. (They'll continue!)