The 11 Most Useful Travel Websites

Ok, these are the travel websites that I find most useful, and your needs may vary. But these are the ones I come back to over and over, I’ve written about most of them before, but thought this list would be useful in one place.

  • Awardwallet. The free version suffices for most anyone’s needs, it’s a great tool for tracking all of your miles and points in one place, and it lets you have one-click login to your accounts as well. They offer some social and trip organizing features as well, though I don’t use those. It’s just my favorite mileage tracking site. The premium version ($5 every 6 months) tracks expiration of your points as well.

  • AwardNexus, Expertflyer, and KVS Tool. These are all paid services, the three most useful tools for searching award availability. Expertflyer has an actual feed from a reservation system, will email you when seats open up, but has limited coverage of airlines. KVS Tool is a simple, clean, downloadable interface which works with various frequent flyer program websites to search for award seats (you could also just sign up for each mileage program directly and search on those sites free, but KVS makes it easier and quicker). AwardNexus also works with individual program websites, but can powerfully search across large swaths of dates in a single search.

  • Autoslash. Book your rental cars through this site, or send them the reservations you’ve booked elsewhere, and they will continually search for lower rates on your behalf. No cost to you, only potential for savings.

  • Great Circle Mapper. I type in the airport codes of my flight routes, and I see the flight paths on a graphical map. But what actually interests me is that it’s a quick way to see how many miles I’m flying, along with the mileage for each segment. That way I can predict my mileage earning, figuring out how many additional miles I’ll need to re-qualify for elite status. (There’s a newer version of the site but I use the old school version.)

  • ITA Software. I use the older “matrix1” site which to me has a cleaner and easier to use, more command-line interface. ITA Software was acquired by Google, it provides the back-end for many airline search and pricing systems, but their website lets you use much more functionality than is live on those other commercial sites. You can’t book through them, but it’s a great “expert” tool because it will allow you to specific certain airlines, specify connection cities, specify searches that are required to include a particular flight, search several city combinations at once, and also search weekend trips or specific-length trips across a broad period of time to find the best deals. Once you identify the flights you want, then go to another website and use that site’s multi-city search to specify the segments and book. You’ll need to create an account (Free) to use the site, and scrutinize not just their basic help pages but also their route language page in order to take advantage of all of the site’s powerful tools. Hipmunk now offers similar functionality and even allows you to book the tickets, so that’s a real advance. Here’s my longer discussion of Hipmunk and how it may quickly become a real killer app even for experts.

  • BoardingArea, the home of this blog and other excellent miles, points, and travel blogs. I tend to follow all the blogs most efficiently through BoardingArea’s twitter feed.

  • SeatGuru and SeatExpert. These sites allow me to look up the aircraft I’ll be flying and identify the best seats on the aircraft and the ones to avoid. Indispensible for seat selection.

  • FlightAware. I use this site to see where the aircraft I’ll be flying is coming from in order to predict flight delays before they happen, and make contingency plans as-needed.

What are your favorite and most useful travel websites? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll post an updated and revised list with your feedback in mind.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Have you tried farecaster.com as well? Also gives you the incoming flight number. I find it to have the info more often than Flight Aware – although I love that site too.

  2. Any suggestions about travel apps? Either free for paid?

    I know a lot of people like TripIt, but sending your various confirmations seems like a hassle – I use Pageonce’s TripTracker, which automatically updates all travel (flight, hotel, car) reservations and keeps tracks of points, miles, etc. It doesn’t track Southwest or Hyatt anymore, and the app itself hasn’t been updated in over a year, but for a free app, it’s got a lot of features.

  3. I use the free version of awardwallet but seems could see expiration dates of my points/miles as well. Not sure why. Free 90d trial for new users?

  4. GateGuru is a great phone App that lays out all the restaurants and shops in airport terminals. Very useful for finding that “right place” and it has maps/reviews/etc.

  5. What’s the best tool for assisting with Around the World award ticket planning? General and specific to Star Alliance (besides StarAlliance.com).

  6. I’d recommend spending a little more time with the new itasoftware system. It’s actually better than matrix1 in that it allows a greater range of dates (+/- 2 days) and makes it easier to add in alternate airports. It took some getting used to (I too used to LOVE the matrix1 site), but I’d say the new site is just as flexible and offers more features than the old.

    And as an alternate to Great Circle Mapper, you might want to give http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/calculators a try. The maps are beautiful and you can incorporate the routes into Google Earth. Fun for the geek in all of us! 🙂

  7. I use pageonce and their trip tacker. I think its better than AW in some aspects. Like alerting the changes immediately via email and smart phone alert.

  8. I personally like tripit. I had the chance to visit their office a few months ago in SF and really enjoyed getting to know their product. I purchased the app tracker and have been very impressed with that version.

    For more info, you can read my tripit entry at http://ow.ly/7GGnI

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