There’s a particular problem for travelers seeking the best airfare, even with the most flexible of fare searching tools like Kayak. The problem is when airlines only fly to a destination on certain days. Even if you use a site like Kayak to search 2 days before and 2 days after dates, that only gives your search a 5-day footprint: if an airline flies that route only once a week, which isn’t that uncommon for smaller (potentially cheaper) airlines and seasonal resort destinations, you’ve got a 2 in 7 chance of never learning about that fare.
There’s also the “serendipity” problem: all the travel tools out there expect that you know exactly where you want to fly from and to. What if you just want to go … somewhere from wherever you are? What if you just want to explore the possibilities from or to a city, as in island-hopping or city-hopping? The travel sites throw up specials and will try to offer intelligent ads based on your searches, but you’re only seeing what deals they want to offer, not all the possibilities.
The website FlightConnections.com can help you get around these problems.
Technically, the site is still in beta, so the developers aren’t finished with it and some of the functionality might not be working or might be broken, changed, or removed by the time you read this. As I write this, the basic functionality–that which you’re most interested in if you’ve read this far–works just fine and will prove very useful to you; the only functionality that doesn’t seem to be working is the affiliate links to check fares and book through their site, obviously how they intend to make money with the site. Hopefully all works out well for the guys at FlightConnections.com, because the site is super-useful (and fun if you’re a map-loving travel-obsessed nomad).
Let’s work through an example. Let’s say we want to go to the Caribbean island of Guadaloupe (actually no need to “say” it, we plan to go there in 2016). Either through your own research or from a promo email from American Airlines, you’ve heard that American flies there from Miami. But your Kayak and Expedia searches have turned up empty. The good, frugal traveler that you are, you’ve been looking mid-week to nab the best fares.
|Navigating to Guadaloupe on the Map
Click on the Yellow Circle for Guadaloupe’s Airport
Use FlightConnections.com to see the “big picture” of flights in and out of Guadaloupe. Either by navigating to the island on the map, or (if you know the name of Guadaloupe’s main airport city, Pointe-à-Pitre and it’s airport code PTP) by typing in the city and airport code in the “From” box at the top of the page, you get a route map of all flights in and out of the island.
|All Flight Routes In and Out of Guadaloupe|
|Selecting Routes between Guadaloupe and Miami|
Already you might learn something interesting, namely that there are flights between Montreal and Guadaloupe that you didn’t know about. You also see that elusive Miami flight from American Airlines. Click now on the Miami airport icon (the green square; you can also type the airport code, MIA, into the “To” box at the top of the map) to get details on the flights between Miami and Guadaloupe.
If there were multiple airlines offering flights between Miami (South Florida) and Guadaloupe, you’d see them listed in addition to American Airlines in this example. Studying the mini-calendar for American Airlines, you see that all the days are “grayed out” except Saturday: this is the only day American offers these flights, which is why your mid-week searches didn’t turn anything up. If you hover over the Saturday button, FlightConnections will even tell you the times of the flight (or flights if there are more than one), duration, and provide links to check fares and book (though those aren’t yet working). Note that since we search backwards, trying to figure out how to get to our destination, the times FlightConnections.com shows you are from Guadaloupe to Miami: to see the Miami to Guadaloupe flight times, simply reverse the search.
That solved the mystery of the American Airlines flight, but you now might realize that your best option is to fly via Montreal, especially when you find that Air Canada offers four flights a week: one each on Tuesday and Thursday, two on Saturday, and especially if you live in the Northeast.
Another fun use of FlightConnections.com might be a bit of destination serendipity. Should you find yourself, for example, in Ireland near the Shannon airport craving a warmer destination, you could use FlightConnections.com to discover your next best direct-flight options.
|Direct Flights from Shannon, Ireland|
The following Thursday afternoon you might just find yourself on a cheap RyanAir flight to Tenerife, or you might nab a great Sunday fare to Malaga on Aer Lingus.
|Ever Wonder Where All You Can Fly Direct from Miami? 🙂|