If you follow travel, you’ve probably seen the ever frustrating tip of “piecing together” flights to save money. In other words, if you want to get from Atlanta to Santorini, it may be best to buy a ticket from Atlanta to Paris, and then a separate ticket to Santorini. The annoying thing with that, is that you need to run at least two separate searches, and likely a lot more. One search engine is tackling that, and so far, the results are fascinating…
On Google Flights this week, a new era of flights popped up more than usual. “Separate tickets, booked together”. The flight search giant has always been adept at showing options where it made sense to book separate tickets for a better priced trip, but there wasn’t a way to book all the pieces “at once”. You’d have to go to each site and book each separately, entering your name, birthday and credit card info at least twice, if not more. Now, Kiwi.com appears to be changing that.
The essence is rather simple: rather than just show you that these separate tickets would perhaps give you a lower price, leaving you to go book each element individually, Kiwi bundles them up into one easier to book package, savings considerable time.
Rather than “here’s the info”, now go to this airlines website and book one part, then go to this other airlines website and book another, and so forth, you are able to book all the elements as if they are all together even though they’re not.
It may find a cheap Norwegian Air flight to a connecting point, and an entirely separate airline the rest of the way, in a way that no traditional airline search would allow. It’s putting airlines together that would never be sold together as codeshares or alliance partners.
What’s most interesting here is that quite a lot of work is obviously going on behind the scenes in the algorithm. Much like the way Google Flights allows you to search to and from up to 7 cities at a time, it seems Kiwi is on something similar, but going a step further by breaking up each individual piece and finding prices across all airlines, bringing an even wider array of outcomes.
Furthermore, the OTA (online travel agency) adds protections to these separate tickets that you wouldn’t otherwise have, if you booked them separately on your own.
Really, that’s kind of the game changer here, other than the search algorithm that combines both legacy and low cost airlines. Being able to separately book tickets which would generally leave you entirely stranded – and eating the costs – if something were to go wrong, is revolutionary, and may lure more people to actually playing around with non-traditionally connected itineraries.
The protection doesn’t work quite the same as a traditional airline ticket setup, but it can actually be better in some circumstances. If one flight is going to screw a later flight, Kiwi offers an alternative flight, or a refund. It’s a whole lot better than the “nothing” you’d get if you book separate tickets on your own.
It’s definitely one small step for convincing people to try new money saving techniques, and one giant leap for search engine algorithms. There could be fun deals ahead. What do you think?