Thursday, August 2, 2012

Finding Cheap Flights for Your Vacation Getaway Using Kayak and Skyscanner (and more)

update: might be even better or at least a great additional tool for finding cheap flights. The price graph lets you easily scan for the cheapest dates to buy flights while the "discover destinations"feature lets you search for new destinations if you haven't decided where to go yet.

Singapore blogger LadyIronChef (yeah I don't get why he's the lady iron chef if he's a guy either) recently posted a great list of weekend getaways from Singapore.

It was just perfect timing for me since we've been looking for some places to go during the upcoming weekends. However, we in order to maximize the trip, we need to depart Saturday morning and return Sunday evening. Normally I would have to go to each of the budget airline websites (which I've reviewed here--completely unbiased, of course) and painstakingly check every possible combination of airlines, cities, and dates in order to find the best airfare and destination that matches our requirements. Thankfully I've discovered two pretty awesome websites which do a lot of that work for you.

Both sites have extremely useful features for finding flights. You can specify a range of dates, certain filters and requirements and sort it all by price (in the currency of your choosing). It even searches all of the Asian budget airlines that lots of other airfare searches ignore. It's a shame there's not one site to rule them all that can do everything but hey, they're both free and it's not really a big problem using both to help you find the optimal flight. Singapore's newest budget airline, Scoot, airlines seems to be missing from both search engines so please be sure to keep that in mind if you're flying to one of Scoot's destinations: Singapore, Bangkok, Taipei, Tianjin, Sydney, and Gold Coast.
  • Skyscanner
    • You can find the cheapest flight by country (or input 'everywhere' as your destination if you don't know where to go and want to see what the general prices are for different places.
    • Another cool feature is the ability to search for the cheapest flights for a whole month or even a whole year.

  •  Kayak
    • Find the cheapest flights over the coming weekends, over the whole month or +/- 3 days from your target date:
    • Multicity trips -- for when you have so much money and free time that you need to visit multiple cities/countries at once. Or if you're taking a long vacation.
    • Filter out Tiger Airways or other crappy airlines (Skyscanner can do this too):
      • because they suck 
      • because you know it's the right thing to do.
    • For you geeks out there, there's even a chart that shows how the prices are fluctuating throughout the year. Very cool.
      • Create price alerts to email you when Kayak finds prices below a given threshold--let the computer do the work for you while you surf youtube and tweet about your cat/dog!

I realize Hipmunk and FlightFox are popular sites for finding fares as well (recommended to me by Phil) but I haven't even tried FlightFox yet (although the premise of letting other people compete to find the lowest fares for you is interesting) and I haven't had much luck with Hipmunk and Asia's budget airlines since it leaves out or ignores some airlines altogether. Perhaps in your part of the world these websites might be more suitable for your needs. In any case, the good news is buying plane tickets is becoming easier and cheaper. When was the last time you took a vacation? It's a great time to start looking at all of the destinations available to you.
Related links:
Budget Airline Reviews
Places to Sleep in Changi Airport
Time Vs Money when booking your vacation


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