Bravofly is an Online Travel Agency (OTA) which conceals one of my favourite cheap flight hacks… if you know where to look.
My #1 tip for finding a cheap flight is being flexible. Not all flights were created equal. Airlines change flight prices every day, and the difference between regular and deeply discounted ticket prices can be quite considerable. I’m talking about hundreds of dollars per person.
But the biggest challenge is researching multiple routes across multiple dates. This is where my favourite feature on Bravofly comes into the picture.
Tucked behind the inconspicuous “find a deal” link on the home page is a jewel of a travel research tool.
Here’s how to use Bravofly to find the cheapest flights:
1) After opening the find a deal page, enter your “from” and “to” locations. Typically this would be a specific airport or even a city name. But where Bravofly.com.au excels is being able to enter a country name. In the screenshot below, I’ve started from New York, and looked for the cheapest flight anywhere in the United States.
2) Check up to 5 months you want to travel (the next 3 months are selected by default). This means you can be super flexible on dates.
3) Lastly, select a “duration”. How long you want your trip to be (assuming you’re returning to the same location)? 1-8 days, 8-15 days or 15-21 days.
Using these search parameters I’ve found cheap flights from New York to Charlotte, Washington DC, Raleigh and Miami.
But you can take this a step further and look for cheapest flights between entire countries. We’re in the process of putting together our travel plans for the end of 2016 and trying to work out whether is cheaper to fly to Australia from Canada or the United States. And then which particular cities work our cheaper. That’s hundreds of possible combinations. I would have thought Los Angeles would be the cheapest departure point, but it turned out to be Las Vegas (during a 2 month window). And while Sydney is closer (and larger), Melbourne turned out to be the cheapest entry point.
BONUS HACK: When multiple cities are involved, you can compare the prices by “departure” and “destination” on the left side. So if you have more than 1 airport within close proximity to you, it’s easy to work out which one will be cheaper to fly out of.
4) Narrow down the options. If you’re trying to fit the trip around your work schedule, it’s easy to filter down departure and return dates by day of the week on the left side of the page (like leaving on Friday or Saturday and returning on a Sunday).
Or compare the return prices on different days at the top of the page. In the above screenshot, you’ll notice a price difference of over $120 by simply staying on vacation for 1 extra day (18 days vs 19 days).
And wherever possible, we try to avoid unnecessary stopovers. If there’s only a small price difference for less stopovers (or none altogether), we’ll take it. A handy checkbox on the left allows you to control weather to skip stopovers and the relevant price.
The best thing about the “find a deal” tool is that all the information is in one place, and you can play with the results, filtering to your heart’s content, without leaving the page.
What else I like about Bravofly:
1) On the regular search results, see cheapest pricing for the next 3 and previous 3 days.
2) The regular search tool remembers your last settings so you can go back without having to re-enter data. A real time-saver, even if you leave the site and come back later. Your search history can also be stored in your account (free to register) – very handy if you’re like me and have 50 web browser tabs open.
3) The booking page is simple and clean – no distractions. Smart inline visa tips are shown where relevant (ESTA for non-US citizens, for example). And easy links to baggage fees from each airline are provided.
4) Pay via Paypal. This is a very convenient feature for us as we prefer to pay online via Paypal.
5) Handy city pages have a lot of useful information all in one spot, including cheapest departure cities, link to map of airport, and weather forecasts. Here’s an example for Sydney.
6) Flight prices are comparable with other OTAs (just remember to include taxes & fees when comparing prices).
What I don’t like:
1) The hotel, flight+hotel, and car search tools doesn’t display pricing in US, Canadian or Australian dollars.
2) Agency fees are added to quoted flight prices, so keep that in mind when comparing prices with other websites. Fortunately, these are itemised on the booking page.
3) Hotel search results are a bit “busy”, and not as elegant as other OTAs.
4) I picked up a couple small bugs in the interface and search tool. Nothing deal-breaking but not quite as smooth as the bigger OTAs.
Considering Bravofly’s killer search tool has helped me find the best cheap flight that I probably wouldn’t have discovered otherwise, I’m happy to put up with a few of the nuances. Now I just have to decide what to do with the hundreds of dollars I just saved.