First make it work, then make it pretty


As part of my small obsession with travel I’ve come to build a number of tools that help in searching for good deals, upgrades, award seats, airport lounges, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and many other things. I’ve mostly been focused on the functionality of the sites, trying to get as much data "out there" to as many people as possible, as I think that’s the most important aspect of these tools. But I also realize that there is something to be said for making the tools look good, and that improving the UI and the usability of the site will also increase the odds that someone will use it and find it helpful. To that end, I’m happy to announce a number of updates to the Wandering Aramean Travel Tools website.

Most of the improvements have come to the fare data searches. The data is now sortable on all columns, loads much faster and allows for much faster correlation of the information at hand. The other important aspect of these changes is that they allow me to more quickly add additional types of fare data to the site as I come up with more fun stuff to share.

Here’s what the new interface looks like:

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Clicking on any of the column headers will sort the data (though I don’t really know why you’d want to sort on fare basis!?!) and you can page through the data using the controls at the bottom of the dialog.

I’m working on bringing back the flight search functionality that ITA killed off in December, getting fare validity details into the displays and I’ve got a few other ideas percolating about as well. If there’s something in particular you’d like to see added to the suite just holler. If I can find the data there is a pretty good chance I’ll build it.

Finally, I’ve removed the registration requirement from many of the tools on the site. Turns out that I thought it was cool to have at one point but I never actually did much with the registrations so there isn’t much point in walling off the data that way. You’ll still need to register for the automated fare/inventory alerts (otherwise I wouldn’t be able to send the alert emails) but most of the data should be wide open. If there’s something that isn’t that you’d like to see drop me a line.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

13 Comments

  1. It would be neat if you could extend the UA SWU page with the Google mash-up such that the airport links filtered the map versus just loading the fare grid.

  2. Also, is it possible do some aliasing? Flights to IAH are reporting as HOU and flights to MCI are reporting as MKC. I’m assuming that the data you’re collecting is using city codes instead of airport codes when the search is done.

  3. Cool, thanks! I like the Lowest Published fares link and the other fare and inventory searches available, but wanted to see if you could add a feature to exclude an airline from the results. For example, show all airlines except NK, etc.

    Thanks!

  4. Great stuff as always! One suggested enhancement. If you could add columns for the LOWEST available fare and the DIFFERENCE between the SWU-able and lowest fares, that would be an interesting comparison (i.e., if I knew that I was only paying $100 more to go up to a W fare, I might take it, whereas if the difference were $500, I might just forego use of the SWU).

  5. Have you looked at possibly making a farecompare flyertalk page equivalent? Not sure you update fares as frequently as they do – but still much value.

  6. Great job 🙂 One question, for those living outside of the US (NRT hint hint), would it be possible to search :from: NRT, KIX etc, to the US?

    1. I’m so happy that everyone is enjoying the updates…I’ll try to reply to all the questions posed here.

      @Tom: Non-US originating trips are on the road-map but a ways down the line as I have some resource limitations right now on data collection resources. Maybe eventually, but not right now.

      @oleg: Yeah, I’m working towards something that is similar to the FareCompare page. I need to add true discounted biz fares rather than just the Q/H/M/B-Ups but I’m getting there. Is there something else that you’d want to see as part of it?

      @Michael: Right now I’m not collecting data on cheapest fares for the SWUable routes but I can probably add that pretty easily. I’m not entirely sure there is value in that data but I’m not completely opposed to the idea. We’ll see.

      @Scott: Yes, filtering by carrier is very near and dear to me and is coming soon.

      @Mackieman: I hear ya on the aliasing. I’m hoping to get some more useful information in those columns and you are correct about why I’m using the “other” codes that I am.

      @mike: Book at your favorite booking engine. I’m querying fares for travel about 6 weeks out so that’s what you’re seeing.

      @Brian Desmond: Are you saying just put the grid on the main page and clicking a link shows the data there rather than needing to load a second page? Seems like that’s reasonable enough. I suppose I could also have the map show fares based on the selected origin or destination point when you select one, but I’m not sure I want to redraw that, too.

      Anywho, lots of great feedback here and plenty of ideas and challenges to keep me going in the coming days. Look for more updates soon enough.

  7. Essentially I’d like to be able to do the filtering by origin/destination or max-price on the map page versus having to troll through the tabular output.

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