The Costco of airfare: How to save 90% on international flights

Scott's Cheap Flights costs $49 a year

By Adrianna Iwasinski - Investigative Reporter, Donovan Myrie - Investigative/Special Projects Producer

ORLANDO, Fla. - Ready for your next trip abroad but don't think you can afford the airfare? Think again.

How about Orlando to Belize for $283 round trip? Live a little farther north? How does Jacksonville to Cancun for $242 round trip sound? South Florida can get in on the deals, as well: News 6 found a round trip fare from Ft. Lauderdale to Aruba for $249 and another from Miami to Madrid for $327.

These trips aren't only available on budget or ultra-budget airlines. The fares above are spread across major carriers, including American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest and United.

"I paid $300 round trip to go from Europe to Orlando, which was a great flight," Alejandra Salemi said.

File photo: Canal cruise boats pass St. Nicholas Basilica in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Salemi has recently traveled to Costa Rica, Iceland and Cuba.

"They literally do all the work for you trying to find these amazing flights," she said.

The fares outlined above, including the ones Salemi found, all came from a web-based service called Scott's Cheap Flights, or SCF. The website is like a travel club without any type of long-term commitment or pricey membership. The cost: $49 a year. It's like Costco for airfares.

"As soon as a really good deal pops up, we're going to let (our members) know about it," said Scott Keyes, the mastermind behind Scott's Cheap Flights. "We focus on the ones that are big wins -- ones that are $500, $600, $700 or even $1,000 off of normal prices."

Keyes said the website started about six years ago when he found a crazy cheap flight between New York and Milan for $130. He describes that fare as "still to this day -- the best deal I've ever gotten."

From there, what started as surfing the web in his spare time blossomed into a full-fledged business.

File photo: A tourist takes a selfie in St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

"For 18 months, it was just something I did as a hobby for friends and for fun," Keyes said. "By August 2018 it had grown to thousands -- friends telling friends. And then I started thinking 'Maybe it’s time to start turning this into a business.'"

SCL boasts 1.6 million members from all over the world.

"You know the thing about cheap flights -- they are constantly popping up and disappearing," said Keyes.

"Airfares are very weird things that sometimes they're present, sometimes they're not. The price is constantly fluctuating. Most people, they don't want to spend their entire day searching for flights. They don't want to constantly do this."

Keyes, however, doesn't mind doing it at all.

"I'm a weird guy. I love searching for flights," said Keyes. "This is how I love to spend my day and we have a group of folks here at Scott’s Cheap Flights who love doing this."

Because Orlando is considered one of the most visited cities on the planet, lots of international flights, that would be priced much higher in other parts of the country, are rock-bottom priced for us.  

So what's his secret? Keyes won't exactly give that up, but he does provide a variety of tips for anyone using the internet to book fares:

If you haven't already, try using Google Flights to find low fares.

Look for mistake or "fat finger" fares that can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Try booking a long layover to give you an extra city or region on your itinerary.

News 6 found several other sites, suggested by the Facebook group "Girls Love Travel" that can also help.

PennyPincher Flights, which costs $29.99 a year, and FareDrop, which costs $47.88 a year, are both very similar to Scott’s Cheap Flights.

SpareFare, which is free, is like an eBay for airfare: Users bid on both one-way and round-trip tickets -- and some ticks come in pairs. SpareFare also helps move entire vacation packages. If you find yourself stuck with a nonrefundable reservation but you can change the names on the tickets, SpareFare is a great place to try and recoup your costs.

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