As a frequent traveller I have collected a number of travel apps that cover everything relevant to my travel needs from airline bookings to weather conditions. I group these on my iPhone and iPad so that I can access information quickly and, when necessary, make reservations at short notice. The apps that I have are the best travel apps as far as I am concerned.
I tried Kiwi.com for the first time earlier this year in order to get from Edinburgh to Florianopolis in the south of Brazil. Ordinarily I would have booked the intercontinental leg through TAP Portugal and the other connections via local airlines but on this occasion I didn’t like the prices.
It was my first time using the Kiwi app. Downloading and registering was straightforward, as it should be, and the search for the best flights was simple. I booked a route that took me from Edinburgh to Venice on Easyjet, Venice to Lisbon and Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro with TAP Portugal, and Rio de Janeiro to Florianopolis on Avianca (a Latin American airline that suffered financially in Brazil last month and no longer operates there!).
I didn’t like Avianca as it was the only airline that didn’t accept on-line checkin so I had to go to the counter – luckily a short queue for us over-60s*.
I am used to doing my own online checkin but discovered that Kiwi does this for you with, in this case, the exception of Avianca. In theory that saves a bit of effort for travellers but caused me some anxiety as I can be a control-freak at times.
All went smoothly though I decided I probably wouldn’t use Kiwi again.
Until last week!
I wanted to get from Edinburgh to Erice (Trapani, Sicily) as cheaply as I could. I know that Ryanair goes to Trapani as I have used them many times in the past – usually requiring an overnight stay in Bologna or Bergamo, Italy. However, the Ryanair app showed only flights from Edinburgh to Palermo while Trapani didn’t even appear on their list of airports. So I looked at the Kayak app where I found a number or routes.
Next day I opened up the Kiwi app and booked the cheapest flights from Edinburgh to Trapani. Kiwi. Not Kayak! Too many apps. Still, I managed to get a flights from and to the cities I wanted.
Cheap sometimes does come at a cost. Over the course of 24 hours I shall have taken 3 flights and a bus trip that, in total, will allow me to visit Eire, Luxembourg, Germany and Sicily on the route from Edinburgh.
The itinerary is interesting I suppose: Edinburgh to Dublin on Hainan Airways (!). Dublin to Luxembourg on Ryanair. A bus from Luxembourg (a city that I haven’t visited since hitch-hiking there from London in 1971) to Frankfurt, and a plane from Frankfurt to Trapani on Ryanair.
The return journey will be almost as spectacular. Trapani to Karlsruhe, then to London (Stansted), then Dublin (yea, yea, fresh Guinness!) and finally to Edinburgh.
I received the booking acknowledgement and confirmation by email – the first within minutes of making the reservations, the second after Kiwi had confirmed each of the flights. I also received the bus ticket for the trip to Frankfurt. The Ryanair boarding cards will be emailed to me on the day before I travel, which leaves me a bit jittery, while the first flight requires me to check in at the desk in Edinburgh.
Kiwi included connection insurance between flights. I didn’t used to take travel insurance when offered but on my trip from Brazil to Edinburgh in February this year I did – luckily! My flights from Lisbon to Gatwick was delayed by 6 hours (for which I received statutory compensation) while the insurance cover got me onto a later flight, having missed my connection. The insurance arrangement worked smoothly – staff at a desk in the departure area at Gatwick made all the arrangements quickly and efficiently.
The Kiwi experience, so far, has been good so I shall keep the app on my iPhone/iPad.
My journey begins at 5am today. I shall update tomorrow on arrival in Sicily.
* In Brazil it is, for any commercial/customer arrangement, a legal requirement to give queuing priority to the disabled, persons over 60 years of age, pregnant women and mothers carrying infants. At airports this group ranks ahead of Business Class passenger boarding. Persons over the age of 80 do not need to queue and get first priority. I think Europe ought to adopt this policy.