Developers at the MIT Senseable City Lab in Singapore have created a new tool for travelers called Great Escape. The tool is designed to find the cheapest flight options to any destination from your home city.
“We wanted to create a tool to help us picture the price landscape whenever we felt like taking a holiday,” one of the tool’s developers, who goes by nickname siaappchallenger, shared on Reddit. “With so many destinations in South East Asia we thought of a map-based approach that can help in exploring the destinations in a fun and intuitive way.”
The website pulls data from Kiwi and Skyscanner, popular online travel agencies, and displays the map of the world with possible color-coded routes—the less expensive flights are green, and the most expensive flights are red, compared with other flights available for your date range. It’s possible to filter results by budget, number of stops, visa requirements, demand and weather.
“We have designed [Great Escape] in a way that is much faster to spot cheaper deals and easier to explore, compare and filter all your available options,” tool developer Mohit Shah told FlyerTalk over email. “We also have a way to see the nearby places of interest, images and what they are famous for, in case you discover a new destination.”
How the Great Escape Tool Works
To start, enter your preferred departure city into the “From” search field. If you don’t care about your destination, leave the “To” field blank. Input travel dates, and wait for the map to populate. Hover the cursor over any city, and a window pops up displaying the city name as well as its airport, weather, price and the number of stops in each direction. The least expensive options also blink begging for attention.
Once you select a flight, there’s an option to book it on Kiwi.com, and the site redirects you there automatically. If you like the itinerary, input your passenger information and proceed to payment.
Pros and Cons
No doubt, the site is a great tool for those looking to find cheap airfares to nonspecific destinations. I like a good airfare deal to a location I hadn’t thought of, and the site accomplishes just that.
However, not having the option to also be flexible on dates makes the search to find the least expensive flights a bit harder. Many flexible travelers don’t care when they go where and choose their travel dates based on the best price. Having to sift through dates can take a lot of time to find those deals.
The option to set flexible dates is coming within two months, Shah told FlyerTalk. I believe it’s one of the missing pieces to make this tool really useful.
Another feature the search tool is missing is the option to filter results by class of service. Those not willing to endure a journey to a far-away destination in economy class would like to choose a more comfortable cabin. Business-class class deals happen from time to time, and it would be nice to be able to find them.
As of now, Great Escape doesn’t provide much novelty compared with Google Flights and Kayak Explore. Both of these travel search tools already offer the option to find budget flights regardless of your destination, but I can see Great Escape’s potential of being more compelling once it adds new features over time.
Have you found anything compelling about the new travel tool? If so, please share your findings in the comments.