Error Flights Can Prove Useful to Savvy Travelers
By Callum McLaughlin
Just looking at Secret Flying’s website, there seems to be little to differentiate it from any other flight booking site. There are scrolling lists of countries and continents you can visit, search engines and big red letters indicating which of the flights have and haven’t filled up.
However, what makes this website different are the prices. Right off the front page, you can find roundtrip flights from London to Thailand for £309 (398 USD) and from Brussels to Tanzania roundtrip £309 ($430), both of which normally go for upwards of $600.
The secret in Secret Flying’s cheap prices is that it only shows so-called “error” flights or flights that have been priced so cheaply by mistake.
A Secret Algorithm
“We have an algorithm that finds flights that have been accidentally priced cheaply,” says Tarik Allag, the site’s co-founder. “And we share it with viewers for no charge. You can find roundtrip flights from New York to London for 200 dollars.
It’s great for spontaneous trips, for moments when you’re just like ‘I want to go here.’” Though Allag now works in travel, he initially had many different plans for his career. “I’ve always loved to travel but I graduated with a science degree. I worked in soccer for a while but that didn’t really feel right. I’ve always been good at finding cheap flights, so eventually, I found a way to make a career around it.”
The way Secret Flying works is that it essentially tracks down what has always been one of humanity’s most valuable assets: human error. For the most part human error is does not have positive outcomes when it comes to flights.
At best it can result in a glitch that recently told thousands of travelers going home for Thanksgiving that their flights were canceled or horrible plane accidents. However, when it comes to flight prices, human error can turn out to be a boon. Though occasionally caused by technological issues or incorrect currency conversions, most error flights (and the most valuable error flights) are caused by miscalculations and miscommunication on the part of workers in the travel industry.
Given the thousands of flights departing from all over the world each day, most flight companies just end up honoring the cheap flight prices they accidentally assigned them. And though it is possible for travelers to find these flights on their own, Secret Flying’s algorithm (which roots out unusually cheap flights and promotes them on their website) saves people the effort of hunting them down themselves.
A New App from Secret Flying
To make matters more convenient, Secret Flying has recently developed a phone app. As fast-changing and inconsistent as finding regular flights can be, error flights can often be doubly so, making it important to be able to constantly check the flights on the go.
Additionally, people can subscribe to certain cities and destinations and can get notifications when error flights spring up near them or a place they are going. This makes the “spontaneous trips” Allag says the site is so useful for even easier to plan (or to not plan) off the cuff trips to wherever is cheapest.
As convenient as this sounds, Allag says that it is still “important to be flexible.” Oftentimes the cheapest flights are not found at the nearest airports. “Subscribe to different cities. It might seem like an extra hassle and expense to drive or take a bus somewhere but in the end, it can save a lot of money.
Say you live in Los Angeles, there could be a super cheap flight in Santa Barbara that we can set you up with.”
Secret Flying is an easy, simple way for a traveler to find a cheap rate for a flight, often a flight they might not have otherwise gone on. And with the creation of the phone app, Secret Flying is more readily available and easier than ever before. Perhaps the Secret Flying just goes to show the often unexpected benefits of human error, as well as their unexpected profits.
Callum McLaughlin is a writer based in Western Massachusetts who has a passion for experiencing new places and cultures.