Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Scanning the skies for a date with FIFA 2014, Brazuca!

If you ask an ardent football fan to choose a destination to travel to, in 2014, the number one answer will be: all roads lead to Brazil! FIFA World Cup 2014!

If God ever were to ask me to list my top 10 most memorable moments in life, one of them surely would be an unfading memory of video clips of the German front line of Klinsmann, Voller & Matthaus charging forward :) Yes, i was born an irrevocable German football fan .. in India :)

That's sealed as it were .. so without much ado, here is how i smart planned my trip to FIFA Brasil 2014:

What dates to travel?

Well, I zeroed in on the initial fortnight of the Football World Cup fiesta because that is where I would get to see the length, breadth and depth of world football, as it were.  

So, depart 10th June 2014, return 25th June 2014.

Which airport to travel to?

I studied all the FIFA 2014 World Cup stadiums and zeroed in on Rio de Janeiro as my arrival city because the majority of the stadium cluster lay around it :) 

How to get the best flight, hotel & car deals?

Skyscanner: #TravelSmartWithSkyscanner:

I signed up and set up an account with Skyscanner and started my search upfront, with flights, from my city to the chosen Rio de Janeiro airport.

I love the simple & fast user interface; throws up a plethora of results, neatly sorted (on a variety of parameters such as price, flight duration etc.) and summarized in a few seconds; needless to say, i have the option to choose my language and currency right at the top.

That clearly gives me the best price for the shortest duration with either a single stop or two stops.  It also gave me the pricing by airline, so in case I have a preferred airline & was willing for that price, I could go with it! cool. 

I will settle for Rs.143,380 - two stops - Emirates + GOL linhas from Chennai to Rio de Janeiro.  Two stops is preferable because it is a long, 21 to 24 hour journey, I personally would love to step out and breath in fresh air at least once in 10 hours :) 

I absolutely loved that Skyscanner offered to send me an email alert if the prices change:

Very practical, useful and well thought out. Thank you, opted for it.

Super pleased with the flight search, its time to look ahead ..


The very next tab on the user interface is 'hotels':

It takes me less than ten seconds to search hotels in Rio de Janeiro and sort and analyze them on as many as six parameters - popularity, price, distance to centre (much appreciate this parameter), name, rating and stars :)

As a woman traveler going solo as things stand, I much appreciate the finer details like safety, how centrally located it is; also find the 'breakfast included' upfront detail very useful.

Car Hire:

Now, I would most likely hail a cab when i reach, but since the next tab is 'Car Hire' i was tempted to try it out on Skyscanner:

I quite like that it gives me options by car type and illustrates it with the actual car model! How cool is that! Well, i m not even a car aficionado & certainly not a guy & yet this thrills me :)

A further illustration that I found the site very well thought out, practical and intuitive is:

I can save all my 'Recent Searches' in my account - to be refreshed whenever I want:

Oh boy, believe you me, that is pretty much all three legs done in a few minutes.

Super cool!  But, wait .. in today's age, what's a deal without comparing it to death - given the Internet and search powers vested in us! 

So, I decided to check out a few sites to compare if I indeed have the best deal:

Comparison 1 - Expedia:

Used the same coordinates - dates, departure and arrival cities:

Here is what I got:

I don't like that it asks me to 'Select' an option to show the price! I would have loved for it to, by itself, give me the price for all the options it throws up.  I like my Apps to work hard for me - not the other way round.  

Also, the minimum duration Expedia shows me is 28 hours as against Skyscanner's 21 hours, for departure.

Anyways, after selecting that 28 hour duration flight, I get my flight option for Rs.426,329.  That alarms me because it is almost 3 times as what Skyscanner gave me!  And, there are a lot many stop-overs here, to my liking: no, i wouldn't want to stop that many times for fresh air.  The pricing actually sent me reeling to check if I indeed selected the same and correct coordinates! To my dismay, yes, i did!

So, I just park it in a window and move on to the Hotel:

Fortunately, with the Hotel, its not a price shock - this in fact is very marginally lower (Rs.7000 lower) than what Skyscanner gave me. BUT, to begin with, this gives me room rate per day - hello, i already told the user interface I am staying for 15 days! So, why should i be made to work hard to multiply? 

Secondly, It states nothing about the hotel - safe, centrally located etc. as stated in Skyscanner - and also doesn't mention if its 'breakfast included'.  So, given I'm the kind of person who places a premium on upfront details, I decide to go with Skyscanner - for both flights (that is a no-brainer choice anyways) as well as the hotel.

Comparison 2: Make My Trip:

Same dates, same cities:

It throws up a more expensive option for the same airline, at Rs. 190,648.

Now, I move to the Hotel search:

I carefully input the same cities and dates, but alas, it kept processing and threw up this screen:

I am far too adamant to give up there, so I try again, upon which, it asked me this:

Yes, please .. i am sure i want to stay 15 nights .. its glorious football on the anvil, you see.

No way out .. it never gave me a hotel option .. I did the entire comparison and search between 20:00 hours and 21:00 hours IST today, so don't know if they had a site / server down time.

So, that's that  .. Skyscanner clearly provides me the cheapest, most optimized and what appears to be a well-thought out & practical trip. 

Here a few more things I found noteworthy on Skyscanner:

There are APPS for every platform: 

All APPS are free and come in as many as 29 languages and 70 currencies. So, i wouldn't even need a PC to use the site - can comfortably do it from any mobile device be it a smartphone or a tablet or a phablet!

Hope you like the smartie pie trip I just planned for myself.  Go get yours :)

I have saved this trip on Skyscanner in my account, in my recent searches.. I need to set life's itinerary a bit before finalizing the booking you see :) But, trust me, this is so tempting that Skyscanner, i almost already ended up booking! Seamless, intuitive and very practical.  I appreciate that they dive deeper to get me the most value-for-money deals.

So, wish me that my life's itinerary can accommodate football this year :)

This post is written for the IndiBlogger Skyscanner #TravelSmartWithSkyscanner campaign.

Cheers :)