I believe that the only way you can know which way to go is to look as forward as you can.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The best websites for airplane ticket reservations.

Over the last few years, many great websites have sprung up that offer outstanding airline travel fares that beat what most agencies and ticket brokers can offer.
These websites might seem a bit daunting at first look, but once you get comfortable and realize how to navigate it and how to submit your questions, you'll no doubt be able to enjoy outstanding airline travel fares in a relatively short time. Here's a quick peek of what you may see from a typical travel website.

Finding The Best Airline Travel Deals By Morgan Hamilton
I am sure that all the above is true… but...
What does everyone want when searching an airplane ticket?
Well, to optimize the price subject to the departure date time and the traveling duration.
Optimizing the price is practically optimizing the date when you make the purchase and the flight schedule.
It matters a lot how is your schedule constrained by departure hours, month or trip duration and between what airports you are traveling.
And there it is: an optimization equation with a lot of variables!

Make the reservation too early or too late, have non-flexible traveling hour or try to minimize the trip duration, prefer a certain airport from your area and the price doubles… There is no magic solution, no know it-all searching tool, no way to say "yes I did see all the possiblities and there is my best choice"!

Most of the traveling sites do not allow aggregators to use their search results. Their Terms of Use forbid the use of robots / crawlers. You should not develop one even for a personal use to optimize your travel over a largely flexible time schedule.

This is why, buying some plain tickets online is not something to I enjoy so much. I do like heuristic algorithms /approaches but not when I talk about money and time spent in airplanes and airports.
The truth is I’ve find some nice features on some websites that significantly reduced my frustration:
  • autocomplete my travel request on the most popular airplane tickets sites bookinbuddy. This is a great work-around for the aggregator restrictions.
  • aggregate with one search data from as many websites as possible: this is kayak.
  • let me sort after trip duration, and then narrow the results by price or the departure/ arrival hour: kayak again.
  • optimize the search around departing date and hours. The best place to do this: orbiz. It shows a nice table with a few days before and after.
  • have the option of searching the nearby airports (expedia and kayak again)
There is a lot of room for improvement. I wish I had the possibility when choosing the departure hours to choose my own departure interval rather then a fixed hour or some general option like noon evening, etc.

I wish things could be more transparent as I only spent more time to search for the same thing.
In the end, of course everyone is patient when saving many hundreds of dollars on a plane ticket.


George D. said...

Greu mai scrii cate ceva..:)..dar si-o schimbare de imagine e buna...!