At the Frequent Traveler University event in Seattle a couple weeks ago I gave two presentations. One of them (which I think was more popular based on attendance) was about the various free online tools I use in my travel planning and how I get the most out of them. Yes, there are some paid tools which also can help, but I like to focus on the free options as I generally find they are darn close in terms of replicating the data/features in many cases and even exceeding the paid ones in some cases. And I also said I’d share the slides I used during the presentation so that people didn’t have to take cell phone photos and try to figure them out later. The good news is that I’m sharing the slides here. The bad news is that if you weren’t in the presentation they might not mean too much. I use them as an outline but I really talked a lot about things which weren’t necessarily shown in the slides, doing demos of searches and otherwise trying to make the session as informative as possible. So, given that background, here are the slides.
And if you have questions about what I mean in any of the slides feel free to ask in the comments. I’m happy to answer as best I can.
Even without the actual presentation I can offer up a few bits of insight on the slides which I hope are helpful.
- ITA can be a very powerful search engine but you have to be aware of its limitations and use the advanced search query syntax to help “guide” it to finding the fares you’re hunting.
- Use the following for tips on advanced search parameters:
- After you’ve found a fare on ITA – especially a complicated one – Hipmunk is a great resource for booking the trip. It doesn’t always work but I’ve had more success with it than other options.
- FlightStats.com is a great resource for inventory data, including for a number of semi-obscure airline awards. It does not have any AA data, unfortunately.
- I like the tools I’ve built. Even with the UA C&D letter I’ve still got some fun stuff available, all for free. Check ’em out.
- Depending on which alliance you’re hoping to redeem with and even which specific partners there are different free online sites you should use for the queries. Some are more flexible while others are more comprehensive. Nothing is perfect.
Like I said, I don’t expect that this is going to be the same as having been there, but hopefully the slides help provide some context and background which are useful to you.
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