Who doesn’t want a bargain on air fares?
Senior travellers are as interested in cheap airfares and discount accommodation as their younger backpacking colleagues.
However, in recent years, there have been relatively few notable improvements in online airfare searching.
It’s blatantly obvious, for example, that the best way to fly to Europe is to buy the cheapest ticket to ANY European city – and then book a separate flight on a budget airline to your final destination.
For example, for someone in New York visiting London, the standard way of flying from JFK Airport in New York to Heathrow in London direct might be significantly more expensive than going to Paris, followed by a quick flight to the British capital.
This is smart thinking and can save you a lot of money for spending on other holiday things. However, doing this has always been fairly complicated for even the youngest mind – let alone senior travellers.
Until now. Enter a website called Cleverlayover.
Developed by students at Harvard Business School, the new site searches your route and links together the cheapest combination of flights, even if it means changing companies at ‘layovers’.
Cleverlayover says combining tickets from non-partner airlines leads to cheaper airfare for 70 percent of all routes worldwide. And when better deals are found, those savings average 20 percent, or about $400.
For many, it’s a vastly different way of flying: you may have longer than usual layovers on your trip, but some countries like China are responding to the trend by offering temporary visas, which allow you to leave the airport during a layover in Beijing or Shanghi and see some of a country that you would normally have simply flown over.
For those on a tight schedule, who simply want to get to their destination quickly and are willing to pay for it, then layovers will have limited appeal.
But there is certainly some attraction in extending holidays in this way – especially if it also saves money. So, does Cleverlayover save much?
We put it to the test by checking prices for a return trip from Sydney, Australia to Copenhagen, Denmark in July/August.
The result: searching on Cleverlayover produced prices that were between $AUD533 and $AUD620 cheaper than the best we could find on three of our favourite booking sites, Kayak, CheapOair and Skyscanner.
The Cleverlayover trip – quoted at $AUD1,391 – is; Air Asia from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur, where there is a four-hour-40-minute layover before continuing with Air Asia to Singapore for a two-day layover.
Most visitors coming into Singapore do not require a visa for entry and may be given social visit passes. The need for a visa can be checked at ica.gov.sg the website of Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoint Authority.
Singapore’s airport features Transit Hotels, where it is not necessary to clear immigration – and the city boasts a range of accommodation to suite all prices. There are also free bus tours of Singapore for people on a layover.
The next leg is by Emirates to Dubai for a five-hour layover, before flying Qantas to Copenhagen. In all, this would be a total of 82 hours, but would afford you plenty of time to refresh and relax in Singapore.
Returning from Copenhagen to Sydney would take 34 hours and 50 minutes, with Emirates and Air Asia, including a layover of seven hours in Dubai and five hours 45 minutes in Singapore.
Alternatively, Skyscanner quoted a price of $AUD1,989 for a round trip on Emirates. The Skyscanner version from Sydney to Copenhagen would take 29 hours and include four-hour-40-minutes layovers in both Singapore and Dubai on the way over – while the return would take 31-hours-and-10 minutes, including 11 hours in Dubai.
So, using Cleverlayover would seem to produce substantial savings. This, however, has to be weighed up against travel time and the possibility of flight delays on one airline possibly causing travellers to miss the next step of the trip.
The former is probably not an issue for people who want to get more out of their trip than simply looking at clouds, while the company says it is tackling the latter by working with insurers to provide coverage in the event of a missed flight – although this might cut into the cost savings.