One of my favorite resources for finding cheap air fares on the internet is Kayak.com.
The two Kayak features I use when I want to find a cheap airfare are Buzz and Explore. I covered finding cheap fares with Kayak Buzz feature in a recent post.
Access Kayak Explore by going to Kayak.com, click the Explore link or image on the right side of the screen.
You can also type the URL “kayak.com/explore” or click the Explore link/image in the Buzz results.
So, there are a few ways to find Kayak Explore.
Here is how to effectively use Kayak Explore to find lower airfares.
To start, you will notice that Explore is a visual tool. Kayak Explore fares are displayed on a world map–versus Kayak Buzz results being in a list.
Similar to Buzz, users can specify a starting destination and a date range. Instead of typing a maximum price, Explore has a Budget slider button. Another slider button is for an option for total flight time; there is also a checkbox for non-stop only. Interesting features include options for season (under the month popup), desired Weather, and Stuff To Do (such as beach or ski).
Here are a few examples of how to use Kayak Explore to find cheap fares.
Example 1: I enter IAD for Explore From, select March 2012 for Leaving, and click non-stop only. The screen automatically updates to show some nonstop fares. The map is centered on the United States. You can zoom in/out or scroll the map. Instead, I will click on Europe on the left side. Similar to the Buzz results, results show a fare of $650+ to Istanbul. Deselect the non-stop only checkbox and many other fares are displayed–including $590 to Istanbul.
In locations with layered result boxes, click on the box to see all results. For instance, there are $650 results (with another box underneath) in UK. Click on either to see details; the northern one has fares for Dublin, Edinburgh, and Liverpool while the southern one has fares for London, Amsterdam, Paris, and Southampton. Zooming will change these display results.
Example 2: Staying on the same screen, I can explore more airfares. Select Winter 2012, select the Beach checkbox, and click Caribbean. It is $290 to Bahamas but I might be more interested in $360 to St. Thomas, USVI. Similarly, I can look at fares for other months and/or to different regions without leaving this screen.
Example 3: For this same example in the Kayak Buzz post, I researched a split ticket cheap fare between Dulles and Honolulu. For May 2012, fares between Dulles and Honolulu are $930. Notice on the map that it is $370 to Denver and $400s to west coast ($420 SFO, $460 Long Beach, $490 LAX). Enter HNL in Explore From text box.
Results show fares of $320 between San Jose and HNL ($330 to Oakland). In this case, I can buy separate cheaper fares from Dulles to San Francisco for $420 and Oakland to Honolulu for $330–instead of $930 between Dulles and Honolulu. I will save almost $200 and create a stopover vacation in the Bay area plus fly on preferred airlines (like JetBlue and Hawaiian Airlines instead of United or American). Truth is that this was a quick search and I can usually find better results with a deeper search.
** Kayak Explore and Kayak Buzz fare results are not necessarily the currently available fares. In other words, results represent what others have recently discovered and may no longer exist. The good news is that sometimes current fares are lower than the results. Click on any hyperlinked (blue underlined) fare to search for current fare options and results.
Once you are familiar with Kayak Explore, these steps only take a couple of minutes and are a powerful way of finding cheap fares.
What’s the BUZZ? Have you used Kayak Buzz or Kayak Explore to search for lower airfares? Other sources? Let me know by leaving a comment.
Charles McCool is an independent consumer travel advocate.
© 2011, Charles McCool