When it comes to technology, Alaska tends to be ahead of the curve when compared to other airlines. Their latest release? They now have a low fare calendar that shows you the lowest fares for an entire month for both your outbound and return.
This isn’t exactly a new idea; British Airways, for example, has had it for quite a long time and Southwest has had its “Shortcut” for some time as well, but anything that can be done to improve the booking process is a welcome addition.
You enter your search criteria just as you would on any site. Then when you select the low fare calendar, it brings up this view:
Pretty easy, and if your dates are flexible, it can save you good money. But your dates have to be really flexible for this to matter. I mean, if you’re putting together a weeklong summer vacation, you might be able to switch weeks, but I don’t know how helpful it is for the majority of people. That’s probably why it’s not the default search on their website.
For me, there are better ways to do this. I think you can get a lot of the benefit by using the implementation that JetBlue and Virgin America use. They show you the flights for the days you chose, but at the top they have tabs with the lowest price on the three days on either side of your date, like this.
But hey, this IS an improvement over what they have now, and I would like to commend them for actually showing the price including taxes on that first page. My only real complaint is that when you choose your flights, it takes you to the old page that shows the roundtrip flights by price. Personally, I prefer the search by schedule that shows lowest fares on all the outbound and then return flights. It’s easier to put options together. Fortunately, you can still get there by clicking again from the search by price page, but that takes yet another click.
So, nice work by Alaska, but nothing revolutionary here. I’d like to see something with more filtering options than just First Class so you can really find the lowest fare on flights that would work for you on each day. One of these days, we’ll get there.