Flight search: this can be as easy from one side as pretty painful due to so many factors like price, connections, layovers, stopovers, airlines, visas. I decided to share some insights how you can save your time and make it more efficient, not talking about the price point.
Flight search guide
First of all we have to decide, which goal we are reaching? If price has no difference – so better itinerary in terms of connection and airlines. If price is important (most of the times – it is) – so better value with more complicated itinerary (stops, layovers, change of airports).
Here are my logics how to perform flight search.
Lets take a small situation: last week my sister-in-law asked me to search for flight for her friend who resides in Vancouver, B.C.
Destination – Caracas, Venezuela, one way. Dates: Beginning of September 2015.
But, since she has no USA visa – flights has to be OFF any USA airport. And, of course, the cheaper – the better.
Where people usually start? Correct. Flight aggregators like Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline, Momondo etc. And that is absolutely right – trusted companies with customer service just in case.
So, lets check it.
I have chosen 1st of September and Air Canada – assuming that there will be no stops in USA. And I was wright – flight would be through Toronto and Panama. Which is is good, but not the price – $1020 is pretty pricy and long trip time – 22 hours.
You would tell me right away : Hey , find another website where you can see the calendar of prices! And you are completely right! You can use Momondo.com – which is very colorful and beautifully designed.
But I prefer Google.com/Flights.
Why? because of its flexibility and amazing MAP tool!
Lets look what it will show us on our request.
I have already noticed some better price of $673.
But when I open it – it still shows a stop in New York City and it calls for change of airports. Which is totally unacceptable.
From here you have several variants: you can click your close dates and see the offered flights with selected airlines. Just think of the airlines which will be most suitable in your case. I have chosen Air Canada, AERO MEXICO and Caribbean Airlines.
So, I have better price now of $689. With NO stops in USA if you break down the flight itinerary.
But I do not stop on that. I want to find something cheaper and more affordable.
Here comes google’s flight map!
You can see that on the right of Google.com/Flights.
And here comes the most interesting. We can see our destination with price, as well as the calendar (on the left). But we can also see the price to closest airports/islands/countries.
Right away I notice $352 Flight to Aruba.
I open google flight calendar for flights from Vancouver and Aruba. And in a new window I open search for flights from Aruba to Caracas, Venezuela.
Here comes the most interesting: you have to find best tickets according to price and itinerary. Why tickets? Because you would need to buy 2 separate tickets : 1 from Vancouver (in my case) to Aruba and another one from Aruba to Venezuela.
So, my total for 2 tickets to Caracas from Vancouver fall down to $352 + $183 = $535 a person. I was looking for best itinerary, with “common sense” layover and stop. I could make it even more cheaper, if depart from Aruba later at night.
You would need to play with dates, prices, airlines on the google flight calendar – but everything is very simply and intuitive.
I also considered Curacao, which had Direct flight from Curacao to Caracas for a whooping total price of $358+$50=$408. But time between flight would be only 1 hour 25 minutes, which is pretty short, considering that these are 2 separate tickets. If a flight from Canada will be late – no one will refund you its price, even if its $50. In this case you may consider stay one night in this place. Or several nights if it is amazing Curacao 🙂 Do not forget about visa requirements!
Interestingly that flight aggregators cannot find and combine these tickets. But you can definitely benefit of it.
One last thing…
Do not forget about visa requirements! Google for it or consider checking DoYouNeedVisa.com.
Consider checking low-cost airlines, but note that they charge fees for baggage and seats.
This method may call for some time – but it can save you pretty much a lot money. In our case I managed to slash price from a $1000 to $400 a person.
Google.com/Flights – you cannot buy directly tickets here, but you will be offered to be redirected to most common travel aggregators: Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline. Or you can go directly to airlines’ websites and book, since you already know the data: airlines, dates, destinations, itinerary.
Also, you may consider using matrix.itasoftware.com. Which is owned by google as well, but I have experienced some troubles with it lately. But, still, it is very powerful flight search engine with routing codes.
Good luck searching and enjoying your affordable vacations!
p.s. If you have you ideas and methods – feel free to share in comments!