If you have ever booked an airline ticket online, then you have a very good chance you made use of fare information from a company called ITA Software. ITA is so important to the online world that Google purchased them earlier this year. ITA’s technology is what powers many of the major booking engines, including some from the airlines themselves.
So can you imagine how powerful an app could be if it had live access to the ITA fare data? Well, imagine no longer, because owners of an Android phone or an iPhone can download OnTheFly – ITA’s mobile application for airfare searches.
Unlike many other airline ticket applications, OnTheFly is designed with a specific kind of traveler in mind – the kind of traveler that doesn’t get scared when they see booking codes or fare constructions. If you understand how airline tickets work – an application like OnTheFly could be your best tool for fighting overpriced tickets – as long as you know where to look.
The application itself is very well made – the version I tested was for Android, and given the ITA – Google – Android links, it comes as no surprise that this is one well designed application.
The smart design starts when you enter an airport – in addition to the airport name or code you entered, it’ll also show other airports to consider.
In the case of Minneapolis, the closest alternative airport is 61 miles away, but when you enter one of the New York airports, you obviously get some better alternatives. Searches can be done by date, flexible dates, fare class, number of stops and a variety of other options.
The results matrix shows airfare by airline, along with the number of stops – making it very simple to pinpoint the best fare.
Results can expanded with other airports or alternative dates.
Once you’ve picked a fare, you can pick your times. Depending on the departure time, fares may go up, so this simple chart shows then the best time to fly will be.
And once you pick an actual flight, you can display its fare information, mileage and even its emissions data – which is great if you participate in a CO2 offset program.
Now – to be perfectly clear – OnTheFly is NOT a ticket booking application – it merely shows the best fares, from ITA’s database. Once you’ve found the perfect flights, you will need to call the airline and give them the information they need to actually book your ticket. Of course, you can also call your travel agent if you still happen to use one.
Thankfully, OnTheFly tells you EXACTLY what the airline will need to know in order to book the exact ticket you want. Since some of these tickets use specific booking codes, you’ll need this data to snag the fare you found.
Bottom line is that OnTheFly is the best mobile airfare search app I’ve ever tested – but it is most certainly not for everyone. If you just want to go online and book whatever looks cheap-ish, then you’ll probably want to stay away from it. But if you make a sport out of finding the absolute cheapest airfare, maximizing your miles and taking advantage of specific booking classes, you’ll get a real kick out of the power of ITA on your mobile device.
To learn more about ITA Software OnTheFly, and to find download links, head on over to their product page.