A decent travel search engine

Added on: Wednesday 11th March 2009

You've been there before - select your start point and destination, enter the dates you want to travel on and the results page says sorry there are no flights/ferries on that day.

It really frustrates me when I am trying to book transport on the Internet and the website expects me to know beforehand which days the flight or ferry or bus goes on.

The other annoyance is when you want to get the best deal by looking at other travel dates and you have to search through each day at a time.

OK, more sites nowadays give you the option to search a day or two either side of your chosen date but you still get the feeling that they don't really want you to find the best option.

Having spent years developing search engines on various database driven websites, I've often thought that it isn't difficult to show the user a variety of dates and time for their journeys and even price options based on the search parameters.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised the other day when I came across Skyscanner. This has to be one of the most user friendly travel search sites I have seen.

Right from the beginning they give you as much information as possible. Click on the Whole Month option on the front page and the search results are displayed as a bar chart with days of the month along the bottom and prices up the side.

You can then see at a glance which days there are flights to your destination and how much they will cost.

There is more though, hover the mouse over one of the bars and it gives you the departure and arrival times and the airline.

Even the destination dropdown box is colour coded with green for direct flights and red for indirect.

You can also select a departure airport and a destination airport and see which airline (if any) flies direct and which airlines offer indirect flights.

The whole interface is really slick and uses AJAX (I guess) to update in real time.

I haven't yet gone through to the airlines website to check the accuracy of the prices and to make a booking but will definitely be doing this soon.

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