An £18 fare from London to Belize may sound too good to be true, but it’s the sort of price you might end up paying if you follow the advice of ‘professional flight hacker’ Jack Sheldon.
He runs Jacks Flight Club, a flights search service specialising in UK and Ireland routes. The London-based American has visited more than 43 countries in three years by taking advantage of the lowest fares online.
He recently took to Reddit to share his advice, and it proved so popular it crashed the inbox of his subscription service and swelled its membership to 45,000 savvy bargain hunters. Here we reveal some of the tips that caused the meltdown.
If you’re flexible with stopovers you may find some serious bargains online
Set alerts for destinations and be flexible
If you’re interested in a route, Jack advises that you set up a Google alert and be open to a number of dates you could potentially fly.
He advised: ‘Put in particular dates and then you should see a button/switch that says “Track prices”. Enter and track a few different dates for best results.’
He added: ‘Set an email alert for price changes on those dates. If you are flexible, I would enter ten different dates and set an alert for each one.
‘Try a vague search by continent on Google flights. Change the month of travel and see if anything strikes you as interesting.’
Jack advises that you set up a Google alert for any routes you are interested in and said for the best deal you need to be open to a number of dates you could potentially fly on
Do your research
‘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 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 one stop unless it’s a vastly discounted fare on a two-stop long-haul.’
He said he also highly recommends the fare alerts on Skyscanner and has around a thousand of them set up.
Look for mistakes
Occasionally computer glitches can throw out shockingly cheap fares which some airlines choose to honour. However Jack recommends waiting a week before booking your accommodation as a carrier may be able to renege on the booking in this time.
Jack revealed: ‘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 five to eight times more than my fare.’
Jack’s website finds mistakes and cheap tickets and sends them out to subscribers. Last month’s roundtrip deals included Manchester to Boston for £200 and London to Tokyo for £272.
By taking advantage of airline mistakes flights such as an £18 fare to Bali can be enjoyed (file image)
Use local sites
Jack said: ‘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.’
He recommends a VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection when looking at local sites such as TunnelBear, which has a chrome extension.
Although Jack checks first if he can save money booking through an agent, he only opts to do so if the saving is more than £50.
‘Depending on how often your travel plans change, it may make more sense to always book directly with an airline.’
Six to 12 weeks is the best time to book tickets but for holiday and peak season Jack recommends booking your flights a year in advance
Find the booking sweet spot
Jack says: ‘Last-minute deals aren’t going to be very common as airlines try their best to take advantage of business travellers and hike up their last-minute rates.
‘Six to 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).’
He explained that back in September it was possible to find flights to southern Europe beach destinations for August 2017 for as little as £50.