I’m not a jet-setter. My family’s recent pace of international travel – three trips in three years – feels hectic to me. I know people who cross oceans quarterly, but I don’t know how they do it. Yet while I’m still acclimating to 12-hour flights and long passport control lines, I’ve used our latest transoceanic trips to explore a world of ways to save on international travel.
My latest find, Dollar Flight Club (DFC), is among the best yet. It’s a digital platform that combines proprietary technology, historical data, and human experts to sift through thousands of daily airfare combinations and find the best discounts available. In short, DFC does the hard work of conducting countless airfare searches daily so that you don’t have to.
DFC’s wheelhouse is international and domestic economy flights. Business and first-class deals do pop up on the site every so often, but they’re not nearly as common as economy fares. But that’s not to say DFC doesn’t offer fantastic deals when and where it’s able to. According to DFC, fare discounts typically range from 50% to 90% off. Discounts on international fares average $500, though DFC doesn’t guarantee specific dollar savings on any given fare.
Intrigued? Here’s what you need to know about Dollar Flight Club’s two plan options and what sets it apart from other discount airfare aggregators.
Plans & Pricing
Dollar Flight Club has three levels of service:
The Free plan is an ad-supported product that Dollar Flight Club swears will always be free. It’s built around once-daily email alerts identifying an unusually attractive airfare deal that may be relevant to you, such as fares for travel between two airports, one of which should be fairly close to your hometown.
To get started with the Free plan, you need to specify your preferred departure region, which may include airports other than the nearest or largest in your hometown. For instance, if you’re based in Brooklyn, your departure region may include airports such as MacArthur (ISP) and Stewart (SWF), which are both more than an hour out of the city under optimal conditions.
Dollar Flight Club’s role is informational only. It’s not involved in the booking process at all, so you don’t need to worry about clicking through an alert link and completing your purchase in a single session to guarantee a discount. There’s also no obligation at any point; whether you act on an alert is totally up to you.
For a low annual fee, the Premium plan has a slew of additional features and capabilities:
- 14-Day Free Trial. Once you sign up for the Premium plan, you have 14 days to cancel without penalty before you’re billed for the year. You should receive a decent amount of flight deals during the trial window, so you’ll have a clear sense of whether DFC is right for you by the end.
- Four Times More Deals. DFC’s Premium plan aims to deliver four times more deals than the Free plan. DFC claims that this makes Premium members four times more likely to book – and save – than Free members. Unlike Free members, Premium members get all relevant error and secret fares that DFC identifies. Though rare, error fares are mistakes that airlines must honor; they’re generally discovered quickly and eliminated, but if you find one, you can take advantage of it. Secret fares may not be visible through public travel search engines.
- Up to Five Departure Airports. Premium members may select up to five departure airports rather than a single departure region. That’s particularly useful for members based in major metro areas with multiple passenger airports (such as New York City, Los Angeles, and northern California’s Bay Area) and members who spend significant amounts of time away from their primary residence (such as college students, people who own second homes, and globe-trotting business travelers).
- Weekend Warrior Domestic Deals. Every week, Dollar Flight Club sends out special fares for Premium members seeking quick getaways. Weekend Warrior itineraries run from Thursday or Friday to Sunday or Monday, minimizing the amount of time members need to take off work. These fares are for U.S. domestic flights, and though discounts rarely reach the $500 international fare average, percentage discounts are impressive – often north of 50%.
- Exclusive Partner Perks. DFC works with top travel brands to deliver exclusive perks for Premium members. There’s no guarantee that you’ll find any particular perk relevant, but DFC adds new perks fast enough that you’re likely to hit pay dirt sooner or later.
- Mobile Apps With Instant Alerts. Premium members get instant alerts through iOS and Android apps. Compared with the Free plan, that’s a big differentiator. Many error and secret fares last mere hours, meaning Free members who don’t regularly check their email may miss out. That’s not so for Premium members watching their phones. Also, Premium members get deals before Free members do, giving them more time to act.
- Cancel Anytime. Premium members may cancel anytime without penalty. There’s no obligation to renew for another year.
For a modestly higher annual fee, Dollar Flight Club’s Premium Plus tier comes with everything in the Premium tier, plus tier-exclusive business and first-class deals, even more partner perks and deals, and discounted access to the Mobile Passport app.
Why sign up for Dollar Flight Club? Consider these advantages:
- Act on Just One Deal, and the Premium Pays for Itself Many Times Over. DFC aims for average discounts of $500 per round-trip international flight. That’s more than 12 times the annual cost of a Premium membership. In other words, if you act on only one deal, Premium pays for itself many times over.
- Premium Deals Are Always Relevant. Since Premium members choose specific departure airports, their deals are always relevant. That’s a big advantage over newsletter-based competitors, which don’t guarantee that the recipient’s home airport – or any airport within reasonable driving distance – will be included.
- Special Perks for Premium Plus Members. DFC Premium Plus members enjoy special perks with DFC’s travel vendor partners. It’s another big differentiator over search-based aggregators and newsletters that focus exclusively on fare discounts. If you’re able to take advantage of a Premium Plus-exclusive deal, your Premium Plus membership will pay for itself that much faster.
- Choose Up to Five Departure Airports With Premium. As a Premium member, you can choose up to five departure airports; no need to stick with a particular home base. Compared with the Free plan – and certainly with newsletter- or search-based competitors – you’re far more likely to find compelling deals serving a departure airport within easy reach of your home. Even if you can find a lower absolute cost on a round-trip fare at a farther-flung departure airport in your region, you may well spend more getting to that airport – including the cost of private transportation, train fare, or fuel and parking for your personal vehicle – than you save on the flight itself. Besides, what’s your time worth?
- No Commissions or Affiliate Codes. Dollar Flight Club doesn’t get involved in the booking process at all. You don’t have to worry about booking in a single session after clicking through an affiliate link, for instance, nor should you fret that DFC will upsell you on fares that don’t actually offer the best value for your preferred itinerary.
- Weekend Warrior Deals Are Ideal for Last-Minute Domestic Travel. If you’re primarily seeking discounts on last-minute domestic travel, Premium’s Weekend Warrior deals are for you. You probably won’t realize $500 savings per round-trip fare, but you’ll still save serious cash compared with booking direct with the airline or through a date-restricted aggregator.
Consider these potential disadvantages before signing up for Dollar Flight Club:
- The Free Plan Has Ads. DFC’s Free plan is ad-supported, meaning its deal alert emails feel cluttered and commercial. Scott’s Cheap Flights doesn’t include ads in its free email newsletters.
- You Need to Pay to Choose Your Departure Airport. DFC’s Free plan allows you to choose your home region only. If you want to specify a particular departure airport, you need to upgrade to Premium. That might not be a huge disadvantage for members based in big cities served by multiple nearby airports, but for folks in more isolated parts of the U.S., the prospect of driving several hours to a bigger hub may be unworkable.
- Airport- or Region-Specific Deals May Actually Disadvantage Frequent Travelers. The specificity of DFC’s Premium plan may actually hinder mobile members looking for wider discount options. For instance, if you’re a business traveler who regularly spends workweeks in a different city each week or month, you may want to jump on a last-minute opportunity to take a cheap weekend trip from your current city without heading home first. Newsletter-based competitors may make it easier to keep your options open.
- No Built-In Search Engine. Unlike Airfarewatchdog, another popular airfare discounter, DFC doesn’t have a built-in search engine. That’s a disadvantage for DIYers looking for something more than curated alerts.
- No Hidden City Fares. Unlike Skiplagged, DFC doesn’t offer hidden city fares, which allow travelers to book multi-leg fares and skip out on the last leg. Though logistically complex, hidden city fares offer immense discounting potential; even if you sign up for DFC, you owe it to yourself to check resources such as Skiplagged before booking.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Membership
Follow these tips to get the most out of your Dollar Flight Club membership – especially if you plan to go Premium.
- Be Open to Second-Choice Destinations. DFC does not guarantee discounted airfare between specific departure and destination airports. If your primary objective is to save money on long-haul flights, you need to be open to different destinations – say, Hanoi over Bangkok or Paris over London.
- Have Flexible Travel Dates. The same principle applies to travel times. As a general rule, midweek travel dates are cheaper than weekend travel dates; the savings may well justify the inconvenience of taking an extra day or two off work.
- Be Prepared to Book Right Away. The discounts identified by DFC rarely last more than a couple of days. In some cases, they disappear in a matter of hours. To increase the chances you’ll land a DFC deal, you need to be prepared to book right away. It’s another reason to spring for Premium, which serves you deals immediately.
- Specify Multiple Departure Airports. If you opt for the Premium plan, take full advantage of your five-airport allowance. You’re more likely to score a truly worthwhile deal this way. For example, if your third, fourth, and fifth airports are hours by car from your home, you can tack a mini-vacation onto the beginning or end of the main event. When my wife and I lived in a remote part of the Great Lakes region, for instance, we spent a couple of overnights in Chicago before long-haul flights out of O’Hare.
When Aer Lingus launched its direct route from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), my home airport, to Dublin, I jumped on it. Booked direct with the airline, the round-trip fare was at least 40% cheaper than direct flights between MSP and London, Paris, or Amsterdam. Thanks to Aer Lingus’s generosity, we were able to enjoy a two-stop European vacation – including internal flights – without expanding our airfare budget.
Unfortunately, we bought our tickets to Dublin before I signed up for Dollar Flight Club, which shortly thereafter turned Premium members on to a $255 Dublin round-trip deal – about $300 less than we paid. If we keep up this one-trip-per-year international travel schedule, we’ll definitely wait for a DFC discount next time around.
Would you use Dollar Flight Club to save on international travel? What’s your favorite feature?