Travel Tools I Love: KVS Tool

Travel Tools I Love

I’ve decided that it’s time to start a new series here on the blog called Travel Tools I Love. Hopefully these tools are something that readers can benefit from using. Travel Tools I LoveWith the volcano making finding any seats a very difficult prospect for our Cranky Concierge clients, I thought it would be appropriate to start with the KVS Tool.

I should make it clear that these aren’t sponsored posts, but I have had a relationship with the KVS Tool for a long time. I use it religiously and Cranky Concierge clients receive a 5% discount when they sign up for it.

So what is this tool? It’s like crack for former airline employees. The KVS Tool has a wealth of information all in one place from availability to fares to visa requirements and more. Why do I say it’s like crack for former airline employees? It’s like looking at an old green screen with airline information, and that’s something I hadn’t seen outside of the airline world since the old eAAsy Sabre days.

I should warn you. If you aren’t an airline person, then you’re better off with another tool. Something like ExpertFlyer has a more intuitive display for the non-airline folks. (ExpertFlyer also has alerts for when when an award seat comes available, which are invaluable.) How do you know if it’s for you? Look at this screenshot. If you get excited seeing this, then it’s for you.

KVS Tool Screenshot

You can find flight availability via four systems – Worldspan, Apollo, Sabre, and Galileo. There is also timetable info via Amadeus and fare displays from Sabre and Galileo. This came in handy for us with the volcano blowing ash around. It’s how we uncovered availability to Europe through places like the Azores or Jordan.

If you’re looking for frequent flier availability, you can get it for the three big alliances. You can also see United’s and Cathay Pacific’s upgrade availability.

Some of the more useful functions are somewhat hidden. For example, you can look up the minimum connection time for every airport if you want to build your own connections. You can also look up visa requirements and airport taxes by country.

If you know your way around booking codes and fare displays, this tool is the fastest way to get the info you need. I use it every day.

17 comments on “Travel Tools I Love: KVS Tool

  1. I read yesterday that Google was interested to buy KVS, whats your take on that? Good or bad?

    I can see the day coming when you step off a flight and get a email or sms from google, advising you of best route to the hotel (via google maps) and where you should eat or shop.

    Pretty soon Google is going to know where you are and what your doing every minute of your life.


    1. You’re thinking of ITA Software, the fine folks who do the matrix trip planner. Still, that’s potentially huge news. A lot of discussion on flyertalk about it.

    1. uh, thanks, but the point of my comment was to make Brett aware of that so he could update the post which is exactly what happened. what, exactly, was the point of your post?

  2. I’ve seen the systems that check-in people use and it seems to be a varient of this, in that it’s all (upper case) text with the screen full of codes, acronyms and barely coherent formatting and always wondered why they haven’t progressed to more friendly, easier to use interfaces.

    It’s as if airline computer system design stopped in the early 1980s and never progressed.

  3. Nice, but why, other than to make things airline as complicated as possible for the traveling public. For us, of course, we love it. We know more, or at least know how to access and decipher what ought to be the one of simplist commercial transactions possible more than anyone else.

    Good for us, but on this EARTH DAY 2010, couldn’t we take a stance to try to begin to free up all this unnecessery time and effort and get rid of all this complexity and obfuscation? No more waste of time keeping track of “availability” by all these crazy inventory/fare codes. Free up all these computers and “tools” to do something a little more productive.

    Like: “Hello, can you sell me a ticket (or give me an award seat) between point A and B, on such and such a flight, on such and such a day, in economy class? How much are you charging and, oh yes, just in case you mistake me as something other than a real, live, breathing human being, “price” is important to me. OK, how about the lowest price that day on another flight, maybe two days later? No, Yes, and if so, how much do you want? Can I negotiate we you on price?”

    Of course this could be done with the computer, and how hard should that be? Not much, I would think and KVS could go on and help us save the earth with all its freed up expertise.

    Of course, my comments are subject to…, exceptions may apply, addtional words and fees may be necessary, and they may not be available on all…or every…, subject to…!

    Anyway, Cranky, interesting as always!

  4. For those of us living in Europe and who regularly fly short-haul at our own expense, both ExpertFlyer and KVSTool alas do not appear to have much coverage of LCCs which by their naure tend to avoid the main GDS. In particular, neither seems to cover the 2 big players, namely Easyjet and Ryanair. WizzAir, Jet2, bmibaby, Monarch, Norwegian, Transavia, Vueling, and GermanWings are not supported either. Then again KVS doesn’t officially list Southwest or Jetblue either…

    1. True, since KVS runs off the global distribution systems, it doesn’t include those airlines who don’t participate. JetBlue is in many of these systems, but Southwest is not. You’re definitely right about the many European low cost carriers. I usually look them up at and then go to their websites for schedules.

      1. Actually, it’s ExpertFlyer that runs off of the GDSs, KVS screen scrapes various free travel websites. That’s why ExpertFlyer has Southwest availability and fares.

  5. Once you’ve identified an itinerary, what strategies do you use to translate that into the identical booking?

    I’ve been a big fan of ITA. But booking those itineraries (via phone or web) at the ITA-displayed price, however, has been trickier. I’ve always wondered why ITA or KVS doesn’t find a way to let you make that precise purchase.

    What do you do?

    1. That can always be the hard part. The problem is that availability is not kept up to date instantly across all platforms. So you may end up seeing something available in one place when it’s not actually available for purchase.

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