Travel site helps save you hundreds of dollars on international flights

By Marilyn Moritz - Reporter, Sal Salazar - Photojournalist, Robert Samarron - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - Iris Shvartsman likes to wing it, especially when she can land a deal on international airfare. She's flown to Tel Aviv, Paris and Barcelona without breaking the bank. 

"The most recent one I've gotten is from San Antonio to Sydney, Australia. That was for $740," Shvartsman said.   

She saved hundreds of dollars on her round-trip flight down under. 

"We held koalas. We got to see kangaroos. Went up to the Great Barrier Reef," Shvartsman said. "We snorkeled, saw the rain forest, all of the fun, typical Australia things."

Shvartsman got her deal using an online company called Scott's Cheap Flights. The website claims to save customers an average of $550 on a round-trip ticket. 

"They're not hidden," said Brian Kidwell, co-founder of the company. "People can find them. People can find the deals themselves. But do you want to spend 12, 16 hours a day looking like we do?"

The service runs by subscription. There's a free plan as well as a premium plan that costs $49 a year and yields more deals. 

Here's how it works. You sign up and select your departure airports. In addition to San Antonio International, it's wise to select Austin, Houston and Dallas because they may mean more and cheaper deals.  That's typically the case with hub airports.

Then, you just wait for the deals to show up in your inbox, such as one for a round trip flight from Austin to Munich, Germany, for $417. That's about half of a typical fare.

"Most people look at booking a flight by 'What dates do I have available? Where do I want to go?' Then they start looking," Kidwell said. "But that's not how you save money. If you want to save money, you flip it."

The offers are for a range of dates, usually two to eight months out. The company has a team of people using technology to search for low-cost flights, including "mistake fares" inadvertently listed by airlines.

A search turned up some examples of expired deals out of San Antonio: $245 to Mexico City, $275 to Hawaii and $584 to Scotland -- all round trips.

The flights are on major airlines, and most prices are for economy seats. The site does tell you the cost for baggage fees and seat upgrades. 

As for Shvartsman, she's already keeping an eye out for her next adventure.

"The next trip I want to do is Greece," she said.

If you're looking to fly, other websites that search for deals include airfarewatchdog, farecompare, secretflying and theflightdeal.

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