Scott's Cheap Flights vs. Airfare Watchdog

Some of you probably saw the brief Twitter scuffle between our friends over at Scott’s Cheap Flights (SCF) and Airfare Watchdog (AWD). While we’re still unsure of the reasoning behind AWD’s subtweet of SCF regarding their premium program’s yearly price, we decided to dig in to each operation and decide the merits of SCF.

As a full disclaimer, I was one of the first people to sign up for Scott’s premium program and spent a lovely Christmas in Paris with my wife thanks to the savings they provided. I also booked an absurdly cheap $300 RT ticket to New Zealand back in April thanks to Watchdog, so I’ve used and been happy with both.

It is worth noting that Scott’s Cheap Flights only deals with international deals, so Airfare Watchdog is still one of the best for domestic flights. As such, we only looked at the international flights for this post.

An analysis of both SCF’s and AWD’s deals over the past two weeks revealed that, while there was a great deal of overlap between the two, both entities also had deals the other did not. Watchdog tended to have more deals that originated from areas like San Francisco and New York, while Scott’s deals were more distributed throughout the country, with some of the highlighted ones even covering places as random and rural as my own Des Moines and smaller Iowa airports. Scott’s also scores points for promptly covering error fares, as I found two over the past week, one from Miami to various locations in Germany and one from Miami to Karachi, that I saw no mention of via Watchdog. While it’s possible these deals were sent out in an e-mail blast from Watchdog to their Miami subscribers, it’s something not readily available to me.

Scott’s also gets credit for their social media. Though it seems to just be getting off of the ground and sometimes the delay in deals reaching my inbox and deals being tweeted about is disappointingly long, SCF’s Twitter feed is far easier to understand. AWD’s overabundant use of hashtags riddled throughout their tweets can be disorienting and quite ugly. The same can be said of Watchdog’s email blasts, though that’s more of a personal problem I have with them.That being said, if you spend enough time scouring Watchdog’s Twitter feed and their email blasts, you’re bound to find something great. The Airfare Watchdog website also allows you to search for flights directly from it, giving it a leg up on SCF’s website that serves as nothing more than a list builder and promoter.

Comparing the prices of deals only sent out by SCF to the average price of similar flights, the amount saved tends to be between $350 - $450 dollars, meaning booking one flight unique to SCF more than makes up for the annual  premium subscription price of $39. Prices are $15 a quarter or $25 every 6 months if you choose either of those options instead. Scott’s also has a free version that provides a limited number of deals.

If you’re a casual traveler, I’d recommend Airfare Watchdog as your go-to source, as they have some of the most far-ranging coverage out there, especially when it comes to domestic flights. If you’re an experienced international traveler and always on the hunt for deals, I’d recommend the premium subscription of Scott’s Cheap Flights, as it currently has no equal, though the premium version of Thrify Traveler just launched and could prove a staunch competitor. The real question, though, is why would you limit yourself to only one? AFD and SCF both provide valuable information and should be used in tandem, not exclusively.