An essential part of booking your own holidays is the ability to compare a range products and services and have enough information to make an informed choice.
Thankfully the internet provides such tools in abundance. Although comparing prices is a large consideration, other factors unique to the product will always come into play.
Having access to this data is essential to make the best choice for you. This travel blog entry looks at using an internet comparison tool to find the best suited flight to a destination, which will be required to act on the other travelonthego concepts such as Framing your Trip and Getting from A to B.
This is not a comparison of the different services, as I only use one. As far as I can tell they mostly use the same source data and make their money from recommending booking sites or from advertising.
This entry is more about explaining how to understand and use the information to find the best suited flight. The app I use exclusively is Skyscanner, which I run from my phone as it has an easy to compare map feature. There is also a desktop version, though I think the map feature is exclusive to the phone app.
Rainbow Bridge - Tokyo
Using the search function is easy, just a matter of picking departure and arrival airports. Below is a list of the variables you want to be aware of so you can make the most informed choice.
• Travel Dates: prices can change depending on travel period. I start with my preferred travel dates to get a baseline then search around that time period to see how it affects pricing. If leaving a day earlier or later can save a few hundred dollars it needs to be taken into consideration.
• Airlines: You usually get what you pay for. The cheapest flights may not be on airlines you would prefer to travel with. You will need to apply your individual filtering to work out which airlines you are okay to go with based on your own safety, comfort or awards criteria. Even if you will only fly on one or two lines, you can make use of Sky Scanner to find the best value date/destination combination.
• Stopovers: Generally one stopover is plenty, flights with two or more stops are tiring and best avoided. Stopovers are a whole different category of travel opportunity which I will cover in a later post. For now though, you can access stop over info on compared flights by clicking on the dropdown.
If you are considering leaving the airport on a stopover you would be generally require at least six hours layover, and even this would likely give you only a few hours in town depending on transit times
. • Map Compare: I’m a big fan of map comparisons, I will not book accommodation without using this feature. The map flight comparison returns good information on flights that land near your chosen destination, so you don’t have to manually enter different cities to compare. This is a big time and money saver.
Advanced Tips: Stopovers are a good clue to ways to save money on flights and build interesting itineraries. I will cover this in more depth on a future post, but for the purposes of finding the best value flight, if there is a stopover near to your final destination, check the cost of ending your flight there and making your way via other means, such as road, train or low cost carrier.
Always compare the cost of two one way tickets to a return, playing around with dates and comparing departure and arrival points if applicable. The accepted rule is a return flight with the same airline is the cheapest way, but this is not always the case. Sky Scanner is a useful tool to evaluate this.
My general recommendation for air travel is to use a major full service carrier that you trust for any long haul flights. For shorter flights I feel safe with the smaller and newer carriers. It is quite viable these days to hop around cities using low cost carriers, even at short notice.
Tools like Sky Scanner make it easy to compare the current cost of air transport to train and bus prices and make flying a viable part of travel on the go.
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