So you’ve decided you want to go on an adventure. To get away from it all! Vancouver you mundane sunovagun, you’re boring the hell outta me and I need to GTFO to a place where there isn’t perpetual rain and gloom (or not if rain is your thing). I’m gunna dedicate my next few posts to sharing tools, tricks and tips that helped me do my research and made my life easier on my trips.
This post is all about THE big flight. Where to look, which airline to choose and other such details. I will discuss transportation within the destination in a future post. Here are a few places to start searching.
Big Travel Sites
The type of website you want to look for are called aggregate sites. These gather flight info from many websites and airlines and put them into a nice list for you. The ones I found had the best UI are Momondo and Kayak. Google Flights also looks promising, offering a handy bar graph tool to help you find the cheapest dates if your’s are flexible. I should note that Google flights only searches flights departing from north america. Note the following:
- Play around with the dates. Mid week fights and red eyes tend to be cheaper
- Always check more than one site to compare prices
- When you’re ready to book almost always double check what price is listed on the actual airline site, as the travel sites can take a cut and add to your overall bill.
- Look into border towns for alternative departures. A Vancouverite might look into Seattle as an alternate. I’ll discuss this in detail in the future
A handy site to see how an airline stacks up is Skytrax. Flyers will post ratings and reviews here. To put things in perspective, a 5-6/10 is pretty good. 7+/10 is more than enough for most travelers. 4 and under proceed with caution and prepare to be flexible.
Deal Forums and Blogs
I’m an avid user of Red Flag Deals’ hot deals travel forum. In fact, the flight for my last trip was discovered on this site. I paid $850CAD for RT tickets from Seattle to Manila. The same thread yielded $650 for Seattle to Bangkok. Another favourite is Chris Myden’s travel blog YVR Deals. There is some helpful stuff and he has been known to occasionally find crazy deals. I think the craziest was Seattle to Tokyo RT for $350! Bookmark these and keep your eyes peeled.
Now personally, I was against using travel agents since my understanding was that they always took a cut and therefore whatever deal you managed to find would fizzle. However the truth is, airlines will occasionally offer agents a designated number of seats at discounted prices. These you won’t find on any website. If anything, it’s worth asking an agent what they can come up with for comparison. I would however use this as a last step in research. Have numbers handy to compare with the rate your agent quotes you. For example, The price I found for an EVA Airlines flight for Bangkok in the summer was $1600+, whereas my mom’s agent found the same flight for $1465.
A final, important note is when to buy. With all the research you’ve done, you have a good idea of how much flights go for. Decide what YOUR price is, as in what price you are comfortable paying. The cheapest price may or may not come. If you purchase a flight when it hits “your” price, you won’t regret it as much if it goes down and you will be glad if it goes up.
Happy searching! Feel free to post questions in the comments.