Jack Sheldon is a “professional flight hacker” or that’s how he likes himself called. He’s visited more than 40 countries by finding “mistake fares,” and cheap deals on international flights over the last three years.He also runs a website, Jack’s Flight Club, where people can sign up for email alerts.
Sheldon, who has flown from Manchester to Boston for £200(Rs 12,000), and from Edinburgh to Canary Islands for £31(Rs18000), took part in an Ask Me Anything on Reddit, and people had some questions.
Sheldon uses Google’s backend matrix, as well as Momondo.co.uk, and gets fare alerts on skyscanner.com.
He says this is the best time to look for flights:
Usually 8-12 weeks before is a sweet spot, but it varies a lot by airline, route, and season. Leave it too late and airlines try to capitalise on hiking the fares for business travellers.
But this varies by season – peak season you want to book as far ahead as possible, off-season – some airlines have last min deals, especially budget long-haul liners.
And for cheap deals:
It varies vastly by airline and season. Some of these new-age budget long-haul airlines like Thomson tend to have tonnes of last minute deals a few weeks prior, while major airlines usually have their best offers 8-12 weeks in advance and some scattered price drops as far as 11 months in advance.
Sheldon also explains how these mistake fares happen:
Massive massive complex pricing databases, which are then forwarded to bookings agents who price based off of those and other agents which match fares of those agents etc. One mistake by anyone, anywhere and it can get multiplied onto a dozen websites sometimes.
Big data = big mistakes
He says airlines honour these fares around half the time, so he advises waiting a week before booking accommodation if you take advantage of one of these mistake fares.