Valentine’s Day is upon us and there’s nothing more romantic than taking a flight with your sweetie. However, booking a flight is no simple task. Â These days, thereâ€™s a plethora of airfare search engines that can find and compare fares for you, each one promising to find you the cheapest fare in the quickest and easiest way. The staggering number of options Â is enough to overwhelm and confuse the casual traveler and cause one to suffer total information overload.
Iâ€™ve tried many search engines and no search engine is perfect. However, these are my favorites:
Kayak.com â€“ Usually my first stop. You can quickly get an idea of how much a flight will cost on various airlines. If you have flexibility with your travel dates, you can ask Kayak to search up to +/- 3 days from your desired departure and return dates or you can look at the nifty little calendar in the top right portion of the site that shows the least expensive flights booked by other people on each day of the month you are traveling. This will give you an idea of which days are the cheapest to travel on. Usually, Tues., Wed., and Thurs. have the cheapest fares.
Hipmunk.com â€“ This site is very streamlined in its approach and its appearance. It also does something unique, it sorts flights based not only by price, but also by an â€œagony scoreâ€. The agony score is based on a combination of price, flight duration and number of connections. So, a flight of shorter duration, with less stops would cause less agony and thus rate higher. The interface is very visual and you can quickly see how long flights are instead of having to read numbers and do the math. This site is all about finding the flight that is right for you easily and quickly. So far, I like it. If you want to save time, this is the site for you.
ITA Software.com â€“ While Iâ€™ve just started using this site, I plan on using it a lot more in the future. It is a favorite of many mileage runners and travel junkies as it allows one to search for some very unconventional routings for flights that your average search engine would not suggest. If you want the most miles for your dollars or have a complicated or unconventional itinerary in mind, give this site a look.
After booking my flight, I want to make sure I get the best possible seat available. So I go here:
SeatGuru.com â€“ Why let the airline decide where you are going to sit? Go to SeatGuru and get the best seat available. You simply enter the airline you are flying and the flight number and you will see a seat map showing seats and their locations relative to lavatories, emergency exits, etcâ€¦ The seats will also be color coded according to quality: poor, some drawbacks, standard and good. In addition to the color-coding, you can scroll over an individual seat and there may be more information there. This information can be the difference between a comfy flight and well, Iâ€™m sure youâ€™ve sat in a lousy location on a flight before. Sorry to bring back the memories.
SeatExpert.com â€“ Another site similar to SeatGuru.com. I havenâ€™t had the opportunity to use Seat Expert, yet. Give me a week. I just found out about it and thought youâ€™d like to know.
If you are a glutton for punishment or have a lot more time than money, you may want to search one or more of the following sites for airfares:Â fly.com, momondo.com, mobissimo.com, orbitz.com, airfare.com, travelocity.com, expedia.com, farecompare.com, dohop.com, sidestep.com, cheapoair.com, lastminute.com, vayama.com, yapta.com, bing travel, cheaptickets.com, hotwire.com, and cFares.com (membership required).
If all of the above sounds like too much hassle you can certainly pay one of the sites below and have them do all the searching and planning for you while you kick back and relax with a margarita.
EliteHelper.com – With three levels of consultation service ranging from $19-$49 they can help you book a specific flight to get the maximum number of miles or a complete strategy to help you achieve elite status faster than you imagined possible. And, yes, Elite Status is worth it.
CrankyConcierge.com – These folks are “proud airline dorks” (their words not mine) and will help you with everything from flight planning and monitoring to delay & cancelation assistance including post-trip dispute assistance if necessary. Their rates range from $25-$75 per trip. Check them out if you want to see what it feels like to have someone taking care of all the details and making sure you get to where you need to be when you need to be there.
Hope this helps you find a sweet deal. Happy Travels.
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