So, in an unceasing search to find myself cheap airline tickets for May of 08, I have been visiting one of my favorite sites, Kayak. To those of you unfamiliar with this wonderful tool, I want you to think back to the early days of online discount airfare. The common TV viewer was bombarded with ads for priceline, travelocity, orbitz, and other related sites. And while most of them were pretty good at finding you the best price, there were drawbacks. There were always associated fees that didn’t register until you actually purchased the tickets. Plus a certain ticket price was never locked in, and thus that low price could be lost as tickets are sold out from moment to moment. In addition, the multiple day features were often unwieldy to use.
Kayak trumps and avoids all of that. Fees are included in the prices they list, and even international travel allows options to search prices for a range of dates. In addition, kayak will automatically search other discount travel sites for the same travel times, so you get multiple searches in different windows just by entering it once. Other features make it much more operable as well. The chart tab allows you to view the rates of a 31 day range of departure dates, listing both the average lowest fare found, and the absolute best fare found. That way I can find the best travel time not only within a week’s time, but also across a span of weeks. Sliders and checkboxes along the left also allow specific airlines to be included and a specific and narrow departure or arrival time to be searched for.
Not that there aren’t drawbacks. Kayak doesn’t directly sell the tickets, so a sell-out of a certain price is still possible. In addition, some airlines don’t ally kayak to list their flights, most notably Southwest and JetBlue. But to me and my pocketbook, that’s a small price to pay – if I’m going somewhere southwest, I can always search their site directly. Same goes for jet blue. In fact, it’s almost worth all the pandas in China.
Ultimately, however, even Kayak was not able to find me a fare to the southern portion of China in May. I am hastily searching for other times now, possibly in early March. Be advised – I may be coming to an airport near you!