7 tips to scoring cheap flights revealed by travel deals expert


Flight deals are taking off this year.

Scott Keyes, founder of Going (previously Scott’s Cheap Flights), a subscriber-based travel aggregator, opened up a travel advice free-for-all on Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” forum on Thursday, offering tips and tricks on getting the best deals for dream vacations.

The original post has received over 1,000 comments as users clamor to get airfare advice for free.

“I completely understand how daunting it all is — there’s so much to wade through,” Keyes wrote in a comment. “One of my core beliefs is travel is a muscle, something we get better at with practice. I have full belief you’ll get there!”

Questions ranged from how to pick the best days to fly to how to score extra leg room as hundreds of Redditors vied for his expertise.

His hacks for snagging cheap airfare comes at a time when prices are expected to rise by as much as 25% in 2023, Reuters reported, due to “high fuel prices, a stronger US dollar and labour and aircraft shortages.”

Citing a report by American Express Global Business Travel, fees and surcharges are driving up the already steep price tags of airfare.

“I have a weird and wonderful job: I find cheap flights to help people travel more,” Keyes wrote in the forum while promoting the name change of his company, from Scott’s Cheap Flights to Going.

Eight years ago on Reddit, he began his regular AMA posts after scoring a $130 roundtrip flight to Milan. Now, his services might be needed more than ever.

“I completely understand how daunting it all is — there’s so much to wade through,” Keyes wrote on Reddit, asuring users he “believes” in them.Getty Images

Book during the “Goldilocks window”

The secret to booking the most popular flight for dirt cheap is purchasing at the perfect time: “Not too early, not too late, just right in the middle,” Keyes advised.

“While it’s true that with airfare, the early bird gets the worm, it’s not true that the earliest bird gets the worm,” Keyes wrote. “Cheap fares are most likely to pop up during a Goldilocks Window.”

According to the Going founder, the sweet spot for booking domestic flights is one to three months in advance if traveling during the off-season. For peak traveling periods like the holidays or summer, he recommends securing a ticket three to six months prior.

But if you’re flying the coop to Europe and beyond, booking two to eight months prior to off-peak and four to 10 months before peak periods is key – but 12 months in advance is the earliest he’d advise.

Airplane shadow over beachThe “Goldilocks Window” theory refers to Keyes’ advice to book travel a certain number of months prior to the vacation.Getty Images

Travel on the cheapest days to fly

Keyes debunked a common misconception that tickets are priced lower on certain days of the week — such as, say, a random Tuesday in the middle of the afternoon. While it might have been “true 20 years ago,” it’s since become fiction.

“Suuuper important to clarify between the cheapest days to book flights and the cheapest days to take flights,” he wrote.

To cut travel costs, he suggests flying on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday, which are typically the cheapest days to take flights. It’s not always true, he admits, but “more often than not” it is.

“These are days business travelers typically avoid, and so airlines know most people buying flights on those days are price-sensitive leisure travelers, and drop the fares accordingly,” he explained.

Steer clear of June unless you’re willing to splurge – it’s “peak travel season.”

“If you put it off until April or May fares are almost certainly going to be significantly higher,” Keyes advised of booking tickets.

But if it’s unavoidable, the Going founder suggested booking two one-way tickets instead of one roundtrip fare, as it “may be cheaper.”

Plane wing over tropical placeTraveling in June – during the peak summer season – can drive up the cost of airfare.Getty Images

Don’t bother searching “incognito”

Users questioned if deleting browser cookies, or using your browser’s “incognito mode,” would reduce fares, but the jury’s still out on if it really works.

“Honest to god it doesn’t do a damn thing,” Keyes claimed. “We sift through 100,000s of fares each day — if anyone were to see cookies juicing fares, it’d be us.”

He even tested the theory by searching for a flight from Denver, Colo., to London 100 times in a row, proving that the rate remained stagnant between the first and 100th search.

“What’s happening is that airfare is extraordinarily volatile,” he said of fluctuating fares. “Think of them like Super Bowl tickets. The fare sometimes changes while you’re searching not because of your searching, but because that’s what airfare does.”

The “logic of ‘cookies increase your fare’ has it backward,” he added, because companies would be using consumers’ browsing history to offer discount codes to entice them to buy, not deter them by hiking up prices.

“It won’t makes fares more expensive, so if you don’t believe me, nothing wrong with continuing to take the extra 30 seconds and cookie clear or incognito search,” he said.

Get a refund on cancellations

Citing the US Department of Transportation’s website, Keyes encouraged users to seek a refund – if applicable – for canceled flights.

Flyers are eligible for a full refund in cash if the airline “significantly changes” the flight and the customer decides not to fly. Flyers are also entitled to a reimbursement if they are “involuntarily moved to a lower class of service.”

“Not a credit, not a voucher,” Keyes wrote on the forum. “Cash.”

Airplanes on runway during dayNo flight, no problem – Keyes said most customers are eligible for a “cash refund” from an airline if their flight is cancelled or experiences “significant changes.”Getty Images

Score extra legroom for cheap

Keyes, responding to a user’s long legged plight, clued in his fellow tall flyers with the unfortunate news that “airplane seats really have been shrinking.”

In November 2022, Forbes reported that the average seat shrunk from 18.5 to 17 inches and the legroom dwindled from 30 to 32 inches. Just months prior, the Federal Aviation Authority was bombarded with complaints from flyers who noted the “uncomfortable,” “cramped” and “tight” spaces they were forced to squeeze into during flight.

But the flight expert came to the rescue in an attempt to remedy the tall order. Keep your eye out for cheap business class flights – which though “quite a bit pricier than economy” have become more affordable – because they have extra leg room.

“Try to get lowest tier elite status with one airline,” Keyes added, suggesting American Airlines as the “easiest” due to their credit card spending perks, “because that opens up substantially more seat selection.”

Budget airlines, though, are the death of comfort – at least as far as leg room is concerned. Keyes cautioned taller users to avoid airlines like Spirit, which he claimed only allows 28 inches of legroom: “Yikes.”

Airplane shadow over forestAccording to Keyes, New York City is the cheapest departure city, or “cheap flight capital of the US.”Getty Images

Select the right departure city

Many commenters were interested in securing cheap flights to Europe, but lamented the surging prices of airfare.

Of course, Keyes had a hack for that, too, claiming that flights departing from New York City, Boston, Miami, Tampa and Orlando are typically the least expensive.

“NYC is the cheap flight capital of the US,” he claimed.

Keyes told one Barcelona hopeful, who was seeking a better deal on tickets, to investigate tickets from Tampa, claiming he eyed one weeks ago that was only $494 roundtrip.

“There’s hope for you,” he exclaimed.

Choose comfort at a low cost

Responding to a user who mentioned having a disability, Keyes said the airlines with the “best on-board service” – like extra room, better service, great meals and more – are “either Asian carriers or Middle Eastern Carriers.”

Rattling off a number of airlines, including ANA, Japan Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Emirates, he also claimed that European carriers are typically better than flying domestic in the US.


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