Tag Archives: skyscanner

Booking flights – not all booking sites are created equal

Once you decide you want to travel, it is time to start finding the best deal to get there.

If you are Canadian, two essential sites you need to follow on Facebook or through their email lists are www.yvrdeals.com (or www.yyzdeals.com if in the Toronto area) and www.nextdeparture.ca

These sites are for the impulsive ready to go people out there. You are flexible with your schedule and your destination, and ready to jump on a deal. Unlike other travel companies that continually advertise “sale” fares, these sites only advertise significant discounted fares.

If you’re unable to find a deal on these sites and have an idea of where or when you’d like to travel, you can start a general search with travel search engines.

I like to start with a broad using Google flights or Kayak and here is why:

Google flights:

– Ability to search multiple nearby airports at once (for example Los Angeles has about 5 nearby airports and prices/flight times can vary considerably)

– Flexible date range – if you are flexible and looking for the best deal to a destination google flights has a calendar view option allowing you to check several months in advance

–  Flexible location search. Maybe you know your dates but are flexible on where you want to go? You can enter broad search terms like “Europe” or “South America”

– Fantastic multi city destination search options

Kayak

I use kayak if I am pretty sure where I want to go and when, but have a bit of flexibility. Reasons to use kayak are:

– Allows you to search +/- 3 days on either side of your date

– Also allows multiple destinations to be entered

– You can enter a price drop alert and they will email you if your destination drops below the price you set

There are other great search engines such as sky scanner and momondo – it really comes down to personal preference.

Once you’ve found flights you want to book on the search engine, you can click on the link to get redirected to their preferred booking site. There have been cases where the link from Google Flights has provided me with a cheaper price with United Airlines than if I search any other search engine or the United Airlines site itself so it is always worth the click through!

Alternately, you can take the information you found and plug it into a separate booking site, or the airlines direct booking site.

Personally, I prefer to book directly with the airline, or through Expedia.

Expedia has a cool perk that allows you to change your flight by end of business day with no penalty (I’ve used this on more than one occasion when I’ve made mistakes) and will also honour the airline change policies – such as free changes or cancellation within 24 hours – please double check with them in case this has changed but I used it as recently as December 2017.

Other pros to Expedia are the opportunity to collect money back through Ebates and their Expedia+ points. Expedia usually has the exact same prices as booking direct the airline so these little perks make it worth using their site.

I will however book directly with airlines in some occasions. Typically when a fare isn’t showing up on Expedia (it happens. I don’t know why, but it does) or I’m looking for a specific connection, or in some cases, airlines offer promo codes to book directly with them. These codes typically can’t be used with third party sites like Expedia. The best way to access these promo codes is to keep an eye out on their social media sites (for example, I follow on Air Canada on Facebook to be alerted on the rare times they post a 15% discount code for booking direct)

In summary, after checking Google flights or Kayak to find your flight dates/times/airline, head to Expedia (via Ebates) or the airlines’ website (with promo codes in hand) to book directly.

I cannot recommend any other booking sites. There are many I haven’t used before, and a couple I have had bad experiences with.

I will NOT book through Travelocity or Flight Network again and although I hope their business practices have improved since my negative experiences, I am unable to recommend them.

In 2013 I booked a trip on Travelocity and within the 24 hour guarantee period, the price dropped. It took me several hours of phone calls and emails to cancel my original flight. I was sent a $50 credit to use on a future booking for my trouble but obviously never used the credit as it would have required me to book with them again. Amongst the worst customer service I have experienced in my travel career.

When I booked a flight on Flight Network in 2015 (their price drop guarantee attracted me and a friend cashed in on this successfully so I thought I’d give it a try) I quickly realized (within the hour) that I wanted to change my flight. I had booked an Air Canada flight and since Air Canada has a no fee change policy within 24 hours of booking, I assumed I was fine. Unfortunately Flight Network adds their own $75 surcharge to this making this change not free.