Whether you are a seasoned traveler or a once-a-year holiday goer or a business travel, you probably deal with airports, airplanes, and flying at some point. Jetting across the country or around the world can be an exhilarating, technological feat, but dealing with the airlines can often be a frustrating act of futility. Thanks to another technological marvel – the interwebs – there are some pretty great airline/flying/booking sites out there. Here are a few of my faves:
- Bing Travel – Bing is the newish big-dog search engine from Microsoft. I have never used it for general searches as I’m still a Google-girl, but it has now become my top site to go to when booking airline tickets. Here’s why: Something they call “Farecast Technology.” Bing searches multiple sites simultaneously for the best fares. The best part is their airfare predictions. They tell you whether to “buy now” because the price is only likely to go or to wait because it’s very likely the price will drop. And according to a third-party audit of their predictive technology, they’re about 75% accurate, saving customers, on average, over $50 on a typical round-trip transaction. I like it!
- Yapta – Like Bing, Yapta also allows you to track fares and sends you price drop alerts, but they also let you know if you are eligible for a refund after purchase. If the price of your airline ticket drops below what you paid, Yapta will alert you when you’re due a refund from the airline. I love that. Caveat: Refund policies apply only if you book directly with the airline.
- Kayak – Alongside Bing, this is my go-to flight search tool. What I like: it’s no frills, a calendar pops up for the month you are searching allowing you to see prices for each day if you are flexible, and in the results window there are many sliders and options you can change to narrow it down like times, stops, and nearby airports. Plus, just like Bing, once you are ready to book it takes you to the airline’s website so you aren’t buying it from some third party.
- Seat Guru – Genius. This site, which lists by airline and type of aircraft (ie Boeing 747 or Airbus A320), shows you a ‘map’ of the interior of your specific plane. Before selecting your seats you can come here to see which are the best and worst seats. By hovering over each seat, little balloons come up to tell you nuggets of info like if they don’t recline or if they have extra legroom due to being on an exit row.
- Momondo – This is another great flight search site. The bonus is it is very international so can be helpful when you are overseas. It is another aggregator that compares prices found on popular websites like priceline and expedia. I also like the calendar that pops up showing you prices for every day.
I am not going to give you all the obvious tips that you already know: have your docs/id on you, follow security rules, check baggage size/weight rules, arrive on time, blah, blah, blah. Here are some more specific tips:
- Ask for the exit row. Unfortunately, many airlines are now charging an upgrade fee for these seats, but if not, it’s like sitting in roomy business class without having to pay for it. I’ve sat in exit rows more times than I can count…and I’m 5’4”, but hey, first come first served!
- If traveling as a pair…book the aisle and window seats. Hopefully no one will want that middle seat and you’ll have all three seats to yourselves. Unfortunately, since they have cut down on flights, many planes are fully booked nowadays and this little trick doesn’t work as often, but still worth a shot. If someone comes…one of you can always slide into the middle seat to sit together.
- DON’T waste another plastic water bottle! If traveling in the US…remember you still can’t bring large bottles of liquids through security. So bring a reusable water bottle and just drink it or empty it before the line. Then after hit a water fountain and fill it back up. I do this all the time and don’t contribute to the sad mountain of plastic bottles sitting in the security line trash bin.
- When you first land in a foreign country…make sure you hit the cash machine first. You’ll need local currency to get ‘out’ of the airport whether by public transport (which I found easy and accessible in nearly all my destinations) or taxi.
- When booking flights from abroad on the internet, you are often redirected right to that countries website. For example, if you are on Orbitz, it may not be the US version and sometimes there are better prices one way or the other…so also navigate to the US site as well and check the prices.