I was so enthusiastic when I heard about Flightfox* for the first time. Instead of looking for all the possible flight combinations and routes to Los Angeles, I could now relax and think of all the pancakes I would be eating as breakfast. Since flights to Los Angeles are expensive, I decided to give Flightfox a shot.
* Flightfox is a team of experts that searches the cheapest flight for you based on your needs (budget, timing, stops..)
3 months before flying out I contacted Flightfox with this question:
I want a flight from Brussels to LA: timetable, departure & arrival city and stops are flexible. I have a budget of 500 dollars, which is not flexible. A couple of days before the assignment I found a deal myself of 550 dollars, but I was too late so I trusted on their expertise to find a similar deal. Couldn’t be that hard right, after all they are the experts?
After I gave Flightfox the assignment, I had to pay 50 dollars and they would look for an expert to work with me. After 12h I got Crystal as expert. Her profile said she was the best in finding cheap international flights with a minimum in lay-over time. Boy, was that wrong…
Here are the 7 things that went horribly wrong once I signed up for the service and why I wouldn’t use Flightfox again.
1. Wrong questions
The first thing my expert asked me was ‘is your budget flexible’? I rose my budget to 600 dollars including all transfers from and to airports. She then asked me ‘whether there were certain airline companies I didn’t want to use’. What a weird question.. If you have a budget that is so tight, that shouldn’t be a question.
2. The expert didn’t look for deals, I did!
The expert asked me where I found the deal from Brussels to LA for 550 euros. I told her I found it through Skyscanner and I couldn’t recall it again because it was expired.I still knew it was a deal offered by British Airways, so I pointed out a link for deals from Denmark to LA. She used that deal to offer me a flight itinerary. So basically I handed out the deal she used, and she handed it right back to me!
3. Miserable communication
Flightfox kept asking me where I found the deal of 550 dollars even though I told the expert multiple times I couldn’t show it anymore because the deal was expired. Flightfox really got me agitated at that point. It was really annoying to get that question over and over again.
4. Sucky flight with impossible lay-over time
After some chatting and 24h to look for a flight, the expert gave me this itinerary: a flight with a lay-over time of 1 hour in London. 1 hour. No way somebody can make it off a plane, go through customs again, get into another plane etc in that time. You do the math… That is a recipe for flight disaster.
5. Flightfox exceeded my budget
The itinerary Flightfox gave me would cost 700 dollars… (So 150 dollars over my original budget. $100 over the budget she requested from me, and don’t forget I paid $50 on top of that for their “service”). Above that, on the way back I would arrive in Düsseldorf, so I still had to take a train to Brussels (extra costs on top of that 700 dollars).
6. Inappropriate questions
When I told Flightfox I wasn’t going to book that flight because it exceeded my budget, they asked me ‘whether I would fly out if it was impossible to find a flight under $600’. What an inappropriate question that was none of their business.
7. Ignored my question for a refund
I gave Flightfox a clear assignment and they didn’t manage to succeed. Flightfox should’ve told me from the start that it was impossible job, but they didn’t. I was losing my time by using the service, so I told my expert I wanted a refund and quit the search through Flightfox. She refused to do so ‘because I paid for an extra search on top of the one she already performed for me’. I didn’t see the use of an extra search, she clearly was not capable of looking for a flight within my budget so I just wanted to abandon Flightfox as fast as possible, so I could spend my time looking for a better deal myself.
I had to e-mail the helpdesk and the founder of Flightfox (who ignored my email even though she helped out my boyfriend a couple of weeks before that) to ask for a refund. It took a whole day & night before I finally got a reply that I would be refunded.
The conclusion: I found a better deal myself
Flightfox was not able to meet my requirements and stay within budget, plus they also made me waste a lot of time. On top of that they didn’t listen to me, they started off the deals I provided etc etc. I was really disappointed because I expected so much more from the service.
Luckily I followed my gut and abandoned Flightfox.. A few days later, I ,the non-expert, found a flight from Brussels to Los Angeles with perfect & manageable lay-over times for only 600 dollars.
I believe Flightfox can be a great service when you need to book a flight last minute and prices are skyrocketing. But if you have time, look for a deal yourself. I am sure you’ll find one!