Travel tricks

I have a couple not terribly secret secrets to awesome travel deals.

Drumroll…

Ok, there are only really two:

ITA Software’s “Matrix” flight booking system, and Hotwire combined with betterbidding.com. Here’s how I use them.

Enter the Matrix

ITA Software, a recent Google acquisition, has the most amazing website for pricing out flights.  You can’t buy them on there, but you can spec out a fare and then re-create it on the airline site or your preferred multi-airline aggregator (Kayak, Travelocity, Orbitz, Expedia, etc.).

They have two versions of their site: the original and Matrix 2.  I had been using the original site up til now – for simple fare constructions, it’s quick.  I was looking for flights with a somewhat complex set of requirements this evening and had another look at the Matrix2 site and it’s improved a lot since I last tried it.  Any day after next Wednesday, 3 or 4 nights stay, one city to any of 3 different cities?  No problem.  I’m blown away.  And that’s not even looking at open jaw or multi-hop flights.

Crashspace

Leigh’s lazy way to get awesome hotel rooms without guessing much or waiting:  it’s pretty simple.  Shop on hotwire.com (link uses the betterbidding affiliate code), and use the hotel lists on betterbidding.com to check which hotel you’re getting into.  I prefer Hotwire to Priceline because it’s quicker (even if they don’t have William Shatner as a spokesperson!).  And it reminds me of dodgy ancient filesharing networks.  But anyway… One trick I saw on one of the forums: vary whether you add kids or not to the booking and you’ll get a different selection of hotels.

One more thing…

Airline miles and loyalty programs can be pretty awesome.  Air Canada currently has the lowest Star Alliance Gold redemption level in the Star Alliance system at 35,000 miles.  This gets you lounge access for a whole year.  Sweet, but also potentially money- and hassle-saving as there is free food🙂

I haven’t really optimized my dealings with non-Star Alliance airlines yet, but the other two main airline networks are Skyteam (Delta, Alaskan, KLM…) and Oneworld (American, British, Quantas…)

Good resources on these topics are flyertalk and for the Canucks, canflyer and Red Flag Deals.