Over many years of researching and making my own reservations for business and family air travel (1.5 million miles), Kayak has become the most useful, flexible, powerful and money saving website for domestic air travel for me (although I make reservations directly on the airlines’ websites). Kayak’s user interface set the standard for excellence.
But in early June, Kayak removed or modified some of its most outstanding and useful tools: Flex-month search, Flex-weekend search, and nearby cities search.
(This is a guest post by travel expert and friend of TravelSkills, Bob Cowen)
Its flex-month search was great for vacationers, seniors and those with flexible schedules. It searched a 30-day period for a trip that could be from 1 to 30 days; users refined the results with extreme flexibility (price, duration, schedule, etc.). It was powerful and very easy to use. Kayak’s flex-weekend search was equally great. It allowed searches of multiple weekends for price comparison with similarly powerful abilities to refine the results.
Searching Kayak for lower prices or better schedules by using its nearby cities option saved my employer and my family thousands of dollars. I live near Detroit and rather than depart from DTW, I have often flown from Flint. Kayak still provides default nearby cities (up to 50 miles away) but has removed the flexibility to add your own nearby cities (up to 200 miles away).
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But Kayak’s default nearby cities don’t make much sense. For example, for Detroit it suggests Flint, Toledo, Ann Arbor and Windsor, Ontario. Toledo is too far away and Ann Arbor has no commercial air service. And it’s not just Detroit… Kayak’s default near-by cities for Cleveland include Youngstown and Burke Lakefront airports, but neither have commercial air service. Go figure!
It made more sense when you could select your own nearby cities instead of relying on Kayak’s nonsensical default cities.
Here’s what I mean: Last year a friend wanted to take their family of four from Detroit to Ft. Myers for spring break on very short notice but prices were astronomical. Using Kayak’s nearby city search, I found much cheaper option for them departing from Detroit to Ft Myers, and returning from Ft Myers to Canton, OH. From there, they could rent a car one-way for the 3-hour drive back to Detroit. I found this option because Canton was in Kayak’s list of user selectable near-by cities for Detroit. Without it, they would have stayed home.
Like other travelers, I’ve used Kayak’s flex-month, flex-weekend and individually selected nearby cities to find lower prices and the best flights for years; these tools set Kayak apart from all the other search sites. But now they are gone. By comparison, other search sites are primitive, lacking the flexibility and ease of use pioneered by Kayak and remain unmatched elsewhere. ITASoftware is a great site but it’s not as easy to use or as flexible as Kayak. GoogleFlights is fine but lacks Kayak’s flexibility.
I have no idea why Kayak would remove functionality. It’s not logical but they did it. When I contacted Kayak about this, they said that it would be “reviewed by relevant teams,” so we’ll see.
Bob Cowen lives near Detroit and has been a very frequent traveler for more than 30 years.
Which fare search site do you favor? Why? Please leave your comments below.
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