Thursday, November 29, 2007

Travel Planning

We decided to punt on the deferred New Zealand honeymoon because things never did quite slow down enough for us to actually plan the trip. We're settling for two weeks and change in Hawaii tacked onto some holiday travel in California -- life could be worse.

We scored some frequent flier tickets on American, so we just needed to book the inter-island flights because we're planning on flying into Lihu'e, but out of Honolulu.

My mother pointed me to a travel search engine called Farecast which purports to track the trends in airfare prices in order to help you decide when it's a good time to buy your plane tickets. Seems like a pretty clever tool -- I had been googling for exactly that kind of information for the New Zealand trip. Unfortunately, it only seems to hit the major hubs in the major markets -- so LAX, not Burbank. O'hare, not Midway. (well, sometimes) Honolulu, not Lihue or Hilo or Kona.

But still, it did a pretty good job finding flights for us. And I thought the user interface behaved a lot better than Sidestep, a fare aggregator that the SOOTTAD often uses. The filters responded quickly and didn't make the page jump around. I also liked that it sends you to the airline website (or at least, it did for me), when it figures out that it's cheaper. As an aggregator, Sidestep would often send the SOOTTAD to some discount site like CheapTickets.com (no link because it's N/G) that she vows she will never use again because of all the headaches it created when we had to change a ticket over the summer. When she uses it now, she finds the fare and then manually goes to the airline site.

Anyway, Farecast found some good prices on Mesa Air for our island-hopping and sent me to their reservation site. Which was very considerate, except for the part where Mesa only seemed to operate within the central plains of the continental U.S. I had to poke around before I found Go! Hawaii, one of the subsidiaries of the Mesa Air group. I wandered through the Customer Care page in order to find it because I missed the direct link the first time around.

Anyway, cheap tickets. Couldn't figure out how to sign up for their membership program, but that probably isn't a big loss since I don't think I'll going to be flying there all that much. (nice thought though, huh?) Now we just have to hope that nothing funny happens to this airline or our flights between now and when we get to the islands.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is another great site out there that you might not be aware of called Airfarewatchdog.com.

These guys search thousands of fares by hand every day to come up with the best possible deals. They cover all of the discount carriers as well as specials listed only on airline websites. Plus you can sign up for a daily newsletter which let's you know about the best fares from your city.

Worth checking out...

Mike Martin

tallasiandude said...

Meh.

Poor navigation and crappy layout. Perhaps it has it's place, but only for specific users. Specific being not me.