British AirwaysLast week I booked a trip to Barcelona for $301 round trip, in business class. The routing is pretty nice – one stop in London. Actually I also booked 2 more tickets for summer travel (in 2016) to Europe on this deal. This may have been a mistake fare, though I think more likely it was just a really odd confluence of discounts and sales. And it was pretty much gone within a few hours. I was fortunate enough to be aware of the deal and at a computer where I could find flights and book them at the right time.

I’m now a member of AARP (anyone can join, regardless of age) because the deal was bookable through a discount they were running with British Airlines. The details only matter if you’re looking for discounts on business class fares since part of the deal still exists but it’s not nearly as cheap anymore.

I don’t write about flight deals because there are plenty of people doing a much better job than me at monitoring this. However, I’ve had enough friends ask me why I didn’t alert them to this deal that I thought I should write up how I find out about cheap flights. So here are my tips.

The main thing you need to do is find a way to get real time alerts from the folks who are constantly monitoring for good deals on flights. I use a combination of methods: twitter, feedly, and some forums. If you really want to be sure to get in on the deals and you’re not able to check twitter or other websites regularly you could set up alerts to get text messages whenever there are relevant deals.

For starters I suggest following: The Flight Deal (@theflightdeal), Airfare Watchdog (@airfarewatchdog), Dan’s Deals (@DansDeals), and Secret Flying (@secretflying). For the most part these focus on flight deals (Dan is more of a generalist but I think he broke the Europe deal recently so I have to mention him). I also subscribe to the FlyerTalk forums on airfare deals and check them regularly.

If you’re really serious about this, I’d also suggest finding a community of folks who are into travel hacking/cheap travel. Sometimes I ask my friends if they want to join me when I find a really cheap flight. But usually that’s with a published sale, when there’s enough time to spend a day or two negotiating plans. When there’s a mistake fare or other crazy discount that’s only going to last a few hours I’m not likely to spend my time emailing people who might or might not be interested. I’ll post it in a forum for people who are actively looking for these deals, and I’ll get down to the business of taking advantage of it for myself.

Do you have other suggestions for good sources on flight deals? Please share them in the comments!