Saturday, June 6, 2015

Google Flights Explorer a new way to find a cheap flight

Where should I look to get the best deal on flights to wherever (Some countries not yet supported)?
We are off to Hawaii in September and I am starting to look for flights. I like many use online booking systems but when I found this I was very excited. Time and  money saved.  The information is from the blog site YVR deals, but the information can be used for any airport Google Flights Explorer supports.
All you need to do is search all the major airlines, preferably at once. My current favorite way to do this would be using Google Flights Explorer because you can just enter 'Hawaii' into the 'To' box, and see current airfares from all the major airlines, to all airports in Hawaii, at one time. Not to mention how easy it is to browse through different date combinations.
Even if you're planning to go for a longer date range than this tool supports (currently up to 2 weeks), it will give you an excellent idea of what the typical bottom price is right now to each airport in Hawaii, and which airline(s) it can be found on. Use it as a starting point, and then use a tool with more precise search options, such as...
My second favorite way would be to search using Kayak or Hipmunk. both have all the sort and filter options I need, and searches all major airlines. Click on 'Make my dates flexible' and set it to '+/- 3 days'. You may be surprised how often being a little flexible with your dates can result in a better price.
With both of these search engines, I will need to search the 4 major airports in Hawaii individually. 

What about the thousands of other travel websites that promote airfares to Hawaii?
This is the noise. There is no shortage of travel sites or brands trying to convince you that they have the cheapest flights from Vancouver to Hawaii. The truth is though, there's only one unique source of passenger prices that they're gathering their info from, and that's the ticket prices from the major airlines themselves. Travel aggregators really can't offer a lower price than the airline itself, as there's already virtually no markup.
There are few reasons why I think travelers waste an enormous amount of time checking multiple websites, hoping for a better deal over the one they already found (studies show it to be an average of 22 different sites over 10 periods of research!). The first reason is just human nature. We all want to compare prices for a holiday and make sure we're getting the best travel deal for our dollar.
But I think the biggest reason is simply the noise of travel marketing. With so many travel sites and brands offering holidays competing for your attention, all hoping you'll book through them, combined with the fact that not one of them will *ever* admit to you that their source of ticket prices is the same as everyone else, it's little wonder BC travelers waste so much time searching.

What about searching the airline's website directly?
There's nothing wrong with doing that. It's usually just a lot easier to search all of the airlines heading to Hawaii at once, with a better interface using a good travel search tool. It's amazing how poor many of the airline's search interfaces are. The fares for airplane seats found on any half-decent search engine will be the same as those found on the airline's own website.
One thing vacationers heading to Hawaii can do is just use a search tool to search all the airlines at once, and then go to the airline's own site to book it once you've figured out exactly which flight you want, and what the price is.
What about my local travel agency or independent travel agent in BC?
They're seeing the same prices you are. Depending on the agency or agent, they may or may not charge you a 'booking fee' on top of the airfare price, for their time. As there's virtually no markup on the cost of flights, they can't offer you a price that's any cheaper than from the airline, or from a search tool that properly searches the latest airfares.

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