As travellers, we love to move around and visit new and interesting places. For many of us, that means flying and staying in hotels. In doing this, most of us look for the best deals to help us achieve our aims.
Loyalty programs are good, but they have their limits. We may have a trip in mind, where we find these limits. The airlines might not have award tickets available. Our favourite hotel chain may not even have a hotel there.
In these cases, it is time to look at other tools that may be at our disposal. Comparison websites are useful in these situations, as they can help us find the best deals.
For flights, one popular tool is SkyScanner. At its simplest, it allows you to find the cheapest flights between two cities. But it does so much more.
Getting Started – Finding the cheapest flights
Searching on SkyScanner is pretty straightforward, as it is similar to how you would search on an airline site. You just put in the cities you want to fly between, and your preferred travel dates. The search engine will normally consider options that have you stopping along the way, although you can restrict it to non-stop/direct flights. The advantage of allowing it to go via other airports is that it can be cheaper (and depending on airline, could get you more of those valuable status credits).
All pretty standard stuff when searching for a flight. But this is where SkyScanner comes into its own. It will look at a range of options from a number of airlines and travel agencies. So, it not only compares different airlines, it compares the prices between different suppliers.
As an example. Let us say we are looking at flights from Melbourne to Bangkok in mid May. We simply enter the details, then click on ‘Search Flights’
The search results page will then display – and in this case there were 113 pages of results. Something I may not wade through. To give you a bit of a feel for the results, I have selected the first page, and the fourth page of results.
We can further restrict the results. For example let’s say we wanted to use OneWorld, or maybe Star Alliance Airlines.
So, from those results, we choose the cheaper Qantas option. Click on Select will take us to a page that tells us who is offering the flights
Note that you don’t actually purchase your tickets from SkyScanner – you will be dealing with the selected seller.
So, that is a basic search. But there are further options to help find a deal.
As with finding Award seats, one of the ways of finding a good deal is to be flexible. That means it is best to have a range of dates in mind, rather than be fixed on one particular date. Sometimes by moving a departure date one or two days can result in significant variations in price.
If we go back to the SkyScanner search page, we notice in the calendar there is an option for a full month. The results can be shown either in a calendar display, or as a chart.
So, maybe you are just looking, and not quite ready. In this case, you can set up price alerts.
Once you have selected the dates and flights of interest you can click the button to get alerts on the price. You can do this for multiple flights, dates, destinations. SkyScanner will keep an eye on the prices and send you alerts if the change.
Skyscanner will also bundle all your alerts in to one email, so that you don;t get inundated with emails whenever there is a change.
So, there’s the basics on using SkyScanner. There are more options that I will cover in a later article, but the functions I have described here should get you started.
Head over to SkyScanner to look for your next flights.look for your next flights.