Scott’s Cheap Flights’​ first mobile application and why we’re building in React Native

Secret’s out. Scott’s Cheap Flights is building a mobile application.

Not only have our members been requesting an app since Scott’s Cheap Flights inception six years ago, but over the course of just the past year we have seen a 281% increase in sessions on mobile. As we lean in to our vision to help people travel and experience the world, it’s time we meet our members where they are — offering them quick and easy access to deals, push notifications, and many more exciting features (We don’t keep secrets well, but we gotta save some of the goodness for launch 😉).

We went back and forth on the right framework to build our application in and there were two clear competitors: Swift & React Native.

We want to build a best in class mobile application that our current and future members will be obsessed with, and in researching the market, it seemed like most iOS Engineers really want to build in Swift. We thought this was the clearest choice for the framework, but as we put our bias of what’s trendy to the side and dug deeper, we realized the choice wasn’t that clear. And as any good decision making process involves, we did a bunch of research and made a pro/con list.

At the end of the day, we made the decision that we’re building our application in React Native.

In addition to the pro/con list, there are two main levers that led to this decision.

  1. Our web application frontend is built in React, and our current Frontend team knows enough React Native to both be dangerous but more importantly, to support the mobile team as they scale and even help with the occasional code review. Being a lean team means everyone works cross-functionally to support each other and our mobile team would’ve been on a bit of an island using Swift.
  2. When digging in to the analytics, we’ve seen a slow but steady increase from 21.7% in 2018 to 27% in 2021 of our members using Android. Swift is exclusive to Apple devices and React Native will allow us to build an application with feature parity across both iOS and Android at the same time. (As a bonus win, both Scott & our entire Engineering team have Android devices, so if we had built in Swift, they wouldn’t have even been able to use the app. 😬)

As we continued validating our perspective, we found a long list of companies that have successfully built applications using React Native: Instagram, Walmart, Wix, AirBnB, Shine, Uber Eats, Shopify, Discord — the list goes on and on. We’re excited to be adding our name to that list of companies building a best in class app that will keep our members coming back for more.

One of the things I love about Scott’s Cheap Flights is we don’t follow the status quo, play by the rules, or feel compelled to use “the new hotness” with our technology choices. We do what’s best for our team, our members, and the business.

We’re ready to build this application and need a team to help us do that.

With 2.6M active members and growing, we are excited to expand our reach and meet our members, current and future where they are. If doing that through helping folks save money while providing a best in class social experience and building from scratch is exciting to you, please check out our openings here or feel free to reach out with any questions.

Megan is the Head of Operations at Scott's Cheap Flights. She loves scaling startups from behind the scenes and doing things outside her comfort zone.