I received the following error message after trying to a “flexible dates” search for travel between Charlottetown and London on Travelocity:
This is a new feature [sic] of the Travelocity website: up until recently you could do flexible dates searches for overseas travel too, and in fact I used the capability to find our excellent $300US return fares from Boston to Ireland in the spring.
The flexible dates search didn’t always work perfectly — about 25% of the time you would go through the entire process only to receive, 4 screens later, an error message of the “KLM does not fly from Halifax to London” kind, even though said fare clearly appeared in the list of available options. But I’d rather have a broken version of this feature than no version at all.
I called Travelocity’s Canadian call centre to ask for information about this change, and was told that “due to certain airline restrictions” the feature has been removed, but that it might come back at some later date.
Expedia has a weird version of a flexible dates search available for selected city pairs only, and says that the fares it displays are “the best prices recently found by Expedia customers” which seems like a number-crunching cop-out. And, what’s more, it doesn’t display a range of available fares, regardless of specific travel dates, as Travelocity used to do — you have to select a departure and arrival date before you get any pricing.
Looks like this might be an industry-wide purge: looking at the top websites in Google for “flight reservations,” I see that while some airlines offer this on their own sites, no general purpose airline site has a flexible dates search feature. Interesting.
Update: Here’s a blog post on the change — the feature was disabled on July 16th, and is related (as everything eventually seems to be…) to fuel surcharges. And here’s another blog post that offers some possible alternatives to Travelocity that have variations on this feature.