Readers often ask me what I use to find my deals and plan my trips. The long answer is very complicated, but I’ll try to give you guys the short answer. This by no means includes all the tools I use, but I believe these are the essential tools available to everyone to research deals in the event that the boarding area network doesn’t have something already.
Google Flights has become my solid favorite place to search for flights and availability based on my preferences and airline choice. Not a day goes by that I don’t use Google Flights to search for one thing or the other.
Most Useful Features:
1.) Price Tracking/Alerts is one of the finest features of Google Flights. You can customize your routes, airline of choice, routing, flight duration, and then ask for the application to continuously monitor price drops and increases. I find this especially useful for finding deals on British Airways, which can often have business class fares for less than $2000. It even sends you an email once a price has changed significantly.
2.) Destination Map and Pricing is perhaps my favorite feature on Google Flights because I can easily find the cheapest destination to fly into or what routing/destinations are available on certain fare sales. It’s especially nice that you can filter these out based on the number of stops and more.
3.) Preference Filters are features, which I have referred to earlier and come on very handy if I’m looking for a mileage run or deal on a particular airline or alliance. It also helps because I can eliminate the silly low fares with a ridiculous number of stopovers.
Honorable Mention: Google Flights also allows one to see whether a seat is lie-flat or not, and therefore rule out all those useless business class seats on intl flights.
Most Useful Feature:
- Booking Code Identification is by far the best feature on Google’s ITA Matrix. A friend recently asked me how many miles he would earn on a flight from India to the USA, and it turns out that the answer is that it varies based on the fare code. The best way to identify the fare code is by looking up the fare on ITA Matrix, and noting down the letter in parenthesis (in this case O) so that you can later check the chart on AA’s website or wherever it may be. It really makes you aware of the deep discounted fares which earn you almost no miles at all.
Here is the earning structure for AA miles on this particular Qatar Airways fare, O class looks to only award 25% of the base miles flown.
Most Useful Feature: The track your rental feature on Autoslash is an absolute gem of a feature. Whenever I make a rental car booking, no matter the site or special discount code, I always go and input my information into autoslash so that I can get a better fare when it becomes available.
After inputting the data into the required field, Autoslash will send you an email with a link to the cheaper available fare so that you can change it whenever you get the shot.
Leaving out TripAdvisor would be a silly thing to do because it is pretty much the source for finding hotel ratings and getting idea of the general range of hotel rates among those well rated hotels.
Most Useful Feature: Reviews
Bottom Line: There are tons of tools and resources available out there. This is by no means a comprehensive list of tools, but it certainly makes up the vast majority of the planning phase of any of my trips. I intentionally left out tools like Expert Flyer because they are sometimes subscription based services, and harder to deal with compared to this. I’ll include it though when I do a post on how to find award seats sometime down the line. Also remember following blogs on boardingarea is probably the best way to find these deals in the event that you don’t have the time or energy to do these searches. So it pays off to stay tuned.
What tools do you use to plan out your vacations? Anything you would like for me to add to this list?