Most of the email deals I send out tend to take eager travellers through a quick progression to identify the exact fare for them. For this, I tend to primarily utilise two tools: Google Flights and Momondo.
Google flights is used to search through flight availability by date and price as offered by the major airlines and a few select large booking agents (those who can afford to advertise on Google, like Expedia and Kayak).
Because of this, Google flights is fantastic for doing broad searches and giving you a quick idea of price availability by date, like so:
Using the Google flights search matrix, you can get a good idea of what dates offer the best value (in green).
Once you’ve decided on and selected the ideal departure and return dates, you will then be taken to a window similar to this one (below) where you can see the best possible fares for these dates as offered by Google flights:
From here, you may select your preferred airline and route option, and will then be taken to the final window displaying the route you’ve selected:
And the prices as offered directly by the airline and a select few major travel agencies:
At this point, you have two options. Either select one of the options above and book directly with the airline or large agent or continue on to check Momondo for a lower price. Here are some pros and cons of booking directly vs Momondo:
• More flexibility should your travel plans change (lower change fees and flight cancelation options)
• In special situations, some airlines will look after full fare customers first (not always)
• Momondo’s search engine will almost always find a cheaper fare for the flight dates you have selected (sometimes only £30 cheaper, sometimes over £500 cheaper)
If at this point, once you’ve selected your travel dates on Google flights, you have decided that you are after the lowest possible fare, you may head over to Momondo.co.uk to compare prices from all over the internet.
Momondo is a powerful flight fare comparison tool which searches through dozens of online booking agencies for the cheapest possible fare. In this regard, it is not unlike Skyscanner or Kayak. However, they tend to search through a few more booking agencies and therefore sometimes come up with better options, so I choose to use their search most of the time.
Here is how to use it:
Once you have chosen your ideal travel dates by using Google Flights, you would come over to Momondo and enter the exact dates here:
Press search and within a few seconds, your results will begin to look like this:
Momondo has searched through the various online booking agents who have offers on this price and has brought up the cheapest fare. The example I’m using is not a great deal, but you can see even here the price offered by the online booking agents tends to be around £40-60 lower at minimum. At this point, I would generally pick the lowest fare and continue to book with whichever agency is offering it. If you prefer not to book with the cheapest agent, in this case Omega Flight Store, you can press ‘See details’ to see what other agents are offering fares on this flight, which will take you to this window:
Choose the agent you’d like to book and you will be taken to their website to complete check-out. Done!
Is it safe to book with these unheard of travel booking agents?
I’ve received some emails in the last few days with questions about whether it is safe to book with some of these less-than-known agencies. Here are my comments on the subject:
From my experience and speaking with many other travellers, you will not get scammed for your money in the sense that they will take your money and refuse to issue a ticket. They are required to issue a ticket for the price you purchased in order to process your payment. That said, on the odd occasion they will call you within minutes to tell you that the price you booked at is “no longer available” and you must accept a refund or accept a higher fare. If that does occur, do not panic. Accept the refund and go on to book with another agent.
How can the smaller agents offer cheaper fares than the airlines or Kayak?
These smaller travel agencies are able to offer cheaper fares because they make their money in other ways (and don’t pay for expensive adverts on TV!)
If you book through an agent and need to change your fare, they will charge you an additional change fee in addition to what the airline charges for the change. Their customer service is also often lacking and they tend to be less flexible with cancellations and other issues (not too different from Kayak in this regard). It’s not pretty, but if your plans are set in stone and you don’t plan on making changes, you should not run into any issues.
If you still have more questions, feel free to send me a note on email@example.com and I’ll do my best to answer.