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There are a lot of tips and tricks in the travel world for finding cheap flights. Some of them are free and some are paid. Hands down, my favorite service for finding amazing airfare deals is Scott’s Cheap Flights. Read on for my full Scott’s Cheap Flights review.
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The idea of spending ages online looking for good prices on airfare causes me physical pain. I hate it. And I ain’t got time for that.
When I first heard about Scott’s Cheap Flights a couple of years ago, I jumped right on it, hoping for great things. Let me tell you it didn’t disappoint.
I actually started with the free Limited plan, but then I upgraded to Premium…just to try it out…I haven’t looked back.
In fact, I love Scott’s so much I’m all paid up through winter 2023.
What is Scott’s Cheap Flights?
Scott’s Cheap Flights is an online subscription service that searches for and alerts their subscribers to great deals on airfare by email as they happen.
According to Scott’s, the deals you get will save you an average of $550 on international flights and $200 on domestic flights.
They offer a free (Limited) plan and a paid plan (Premium). Those who want to try out a Premium subscription will get the first two weeks for free to try it out and see if they like the kinds of deals they’re getting. After that it’s $49 per year.
Although Scott’s is not a travel agency that offers one-on-one services or consultations, they do have an outstanding customer service team that is happy answer your questions.
You don’t need to be a veteran frequent traveler to get a ton of value out of a subscription to Scott’s Cheap Flights.
How does Scott’s Cheap Flights work?
Scott’s Cheap Flights is so easy to use. You just sign up on their website (more about the differences between the free and paid version later), and you’ll start getting amazing flight deals sent directly to your email inbox.
No more pouring over Google Flights Explore or setting up a bunch of price trackers in Google Flights or Hopper for destinations you might want to travel to.
Just sit back and wait for deals to come to you.
When you sign up, they’ll walk you through confirming your email address, choosing your home airport and choosing other airports in your area to follow so you have the best chance of getting amazing international and domestic (Premium) deals.
You’ll only get deals departing from the airports you follow. (At this time Scott’s only sends alerts for departure airports in the United States.)
Then, you’ll receive emails that look just like this one.
The subject line will be something like: 🦋 Panama — $200s nonstop
Depending on the details of the deal, the subject line might also include peak travel, Christmas/NYE, *rare* or other important information to alert you to a deal that’s extra special.
The email alert body includes the following important information:
- Departure airport(s)
- Whether it is nonstop
- Normal price
- How long Scott’s thinks the deal will last
- General travel date range the deal is good for
- Add-on fees and fare category
You can also find the same deals on the Scott’s website if you log into your account.
Booking the deal
The email alert will also include instructions for how to book the deal and a booking button.
The button will lead you to Google Flights with a pre-populated search query. Just change the search parameters to what you’re looking for. Pay special attention to departure airport (some deals are good for multiple airports), destination (some deals cover multiple destinations) number of travelers and dates.
Open up the Google Flights calendar or use the Date Grid to see all of your travel date options.
Check out my post on how to use Google Flights for step-by-step instructions.
Be advised that many of the deals you will get are for Basic Economy. You can always upgrade when you book. Occasionally, Premium members will see deals for business class.
Pro tip: We love to use our United Mileage Plus Explorer card to book Basic Economy flights. We get priority boarding, free checked bags, bring full-size carry-ons and more.
Why should I try Scott’s Cheap Flights?
A deal from Scott’s Cheap Flights isn’t just about a low price (although that’s important). You’ll only get “good quality” deals.
- Save an average of $550 on international flights and $200 on domestic flights.
- Get deals only with good routing (ideally nonstop and no bad layovers).
- Only get deals with good airlines, no budget carriers with reputations for bad customer service.
- You won’t get last minute deals, only those that will allow you time to do some planning.
- No cluttered email inbox. Only get deals for the departure airports you’re following (as many or as few as you want).
- The $49 annual fee pays for itself multiple times over even if you only book one domestic deal a year.
- Get the first 14 days for free to see if you think you’ll get value out of it.
Also, because the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed travel so dramatically, Scott’s has added a pause feature, which allows you to turn off your alerts for up to six months (which moves your renewal date out as well). This way you’re not paying for alerts that you have no plans to use.
You can “un-pause” your deals once you’re ready to start traveling again or they will start again automatically after six months. You can find the pause button under billing when logged in to your account.
Are there any downsides to using Scott’s Cheap Flights?
- The Premium plan annual fee of $49 is not small.
- Though you can tell Scott’s what destinations you’re interested in when you sign up, you can’t follow certain destinations the way you follow departure airports.
- You’ll only get deals for departure airports in the United States.
- The Limited plan is quite limited. You only get a small sampling of the deals that Premium members get…and Premium members get the deals first.
Is Scott’s Cheap Flights worth it?
In fact, I love Scott’s Cheap Flights so much that I’m already all paid up through winter 2023.
Here are some examples of some actual Scott’s Cheap Flights deals I have received recently (through early 2021):
- $197 nonstop from Charlotte, North Carolina, (CLT) to Honolulu (HNL)
- $275 nonstop from Atlanta (ATL) to Lima, Peru (LIM)
- $57 nonstop from Greenville (GSP) to Washington, DC (IAD)
- $182 from Greenville (GSP) to Jackson Hole (JAC)
- $177 nonstop from Charlotte (CLT) to San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU)
Are there good free alternatives to Scott’s Cheap Flights?
Yes, I also recommend using Secret Flying, which is totally free. Download the free app to get alert notifications sent directly to your phone.
While I prefer Scott’s Cheap Flights Premium to the deals I get from Secret Flying, I do think that Secret Flying is the better free option. It offers more than the Scott’s Limited Plan in my experience.
I also recommend Secret Flying to anyone whose home airport is outside the United States.
Scott’s Cheap Flights Free vs Premium
When you sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights you’ll be asked if you want the free Limited Plan or the Premium Plan at $49 per year (you’ll get the first 14 days for free).
On the Limited plan you will receive “sample economy class international deals during off peak times” with “up to 1 international deal per week.”
Premium plan members get:
- Unlimited international deals
- Domestic deals (which they just started recently)
- Weekend getaways (practically brand new in early 2021)
- Mistake fares, including business class
- Summer, holiday and peak season deals
With a subscription to Scott’s Cheap Flights Premium, it’s far more likely you’ll score a great deal to your bucket list destination. Or even score a great deal to an amazing destination that you had not even considered.
I have both Limited and Premium memberships (under different email addresses) so that I can compare the two.
Over one week in winter 2021 I received:
- 15 Premium deals for Belize, Peru, New York City, Great Exuma, U.S Virgin Islands (twice!), Japan, Miami, Greece, Nashville, Colombia, Argentina, Paris, Panama and Aruba
- 3 Limited deals to Nashville, Cancun and Western Africa
None of Limited alerts for that week were for my home airport, but by going to the Scott’s Cheap Flights website from the email I was able to see that the Nashville deal included an airport nearby…I just didn’t get that alert to my inbox.
So, even though Scott’s says the domestic deal alerts are Premium only, you may still be able to get one on the Limited plan for an airport in your region.
How to get the most out of your Scott’s subscription
Scott’s recommends that every member spend a few minutes on their website making sure that they have their home airport set to what they want and that they’re following other airports in their region to have the best chance of scoring a great deal on international flights.
Domestic deals will default to your home airport, but you can follow additional airports if you wish.
Frequently asked questions
Can I cancel my Premium subscription to Scott’s Cheap Flights?
Yes, you can cancel at any time so that your membership does not renew for another year. If you’re still in the free trial period make sure you cancel before it ends so you are not charged for a year of Premium membership.
A great feature they offer is pausing your subscription for up to six months once per billing cycle.
So if you know you’re not going to be able to travel anytime soon, just head over to the website and login to your account and click on Billing. Then hit the orange Pause button and choose how many months you wish to pause your account.
Scott’s recommends pausing for the full six months if you want to pause and then unpausing later if you change your mind…since you can only use pause once per year.
If you’re not a frequent traveler but you want the deals, pausing for six months during every cycle will give you 18 months of Scott’s Cheap Flights for $49. At this time the pause feature appears to be active because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not clear if Pause will remain available after normal travel resumes in the future.
How can I change the airports I follow?
You can change your home airport and other airports you follow at any time. To do this log into your Scott’s account and click on Departure Airports in the menu.
Does Scott’s Cheap Flights send deals for departure airports outside the United States?
At this time Scott’s only sends alerts for airports in the U.S. For those interested in deals from departure airports outside the U.S., I recommend the free Secret Flying app.
Can I get deal alerts to specific destinations?
Scott’s Cheap Flights deals are based on departure airport, not destination. Filling out your Travel Profile will help Scott’s understand what their members are looking for.
How long are deals available?
This will vary depending on a number of factors. Scott’s will include in your alert email their best guess for how long it will last…but don’t wait. Deals for popular destinations can go fast, sometimes in only a few hours.
Scott’s Cheap Flights Review: the bottom line
If you’re interested in scoring a great deal on airfare, then a membership with Scott’s Cheap Flights is a must for any traveler. With 14 days free to try it out, what do you have to lose?
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