People on a tight budget often can’t follow through on the trips they plan to take because of steep air fares. To try and help with this struggle, a Cornell student has been volunteering to find cheap flights for random strangers on Reddit for the past 15 days.
Nicholas Doyle ’19 does not take any money for the help he offers and instead suggests everyone he helps should go help others.
Doyle is a computer science major in the College of Engineering and had previously planned out theoretical trips to different destinations. One day, he realized that his interest could be better used to help other people.
“I realized instead of doing random destinations, I would help out strangers a little bit. It seemed like it would be a little bit more helpful,” he told The Sun. His Reddit post — which is on the subreddit dedicated to frugality — has received nearly 500 replies and he has responded to around 30 inquiries.
Doyle uses a variety of tactics to find cheap airfare, according to his interview with MarketWatch. His two most important tips for travelers are booking early and being flexible with dates. He also uses different websites to compare prices and the airfare of different companies.
Using these tactics, he was able to find round trip flights to Japan for only $400 and Ireland for $250 during the winter breaks of his junior and sophomore years respectively.
Doyle has been interested in aviation and traveling since he was 10 years old.
“I like the industry a lot,” he said. “It’s really cool how aviation in the last 50 years has connected people throughout the world and made the world smaller.”
Last semester, Doyle participated in Hilton’s Hospitality Hackathon at Cornell, where he created a travel-related app with his friends that allowed the user to view carry-on bag fees, check-in bag fees and subsequently change fees for flights.
“Kayak had just launched their own versions of the same thing so it was redundant. But it was a really fun experience,” he told The Sun.
According to Doyle, Cornell is “actually one of the perfect places [to be in] if you want to do aviation” for the breadth of education its offers. He explained that it wasn’t just the engineering program that allowed him to understand the industry better, but also highlighted the “strong” programs offered by the arts college and the hotel school.
“In the fall semester of 2017, I took an airline management class, which was in the hotel school,” he said. “I’ve taken [computer science] classes, but I had not really seen the business aspect of the aviation industry. That was really valuable to me.”
At Cornell, Doyle has been able to explore the intersections between aviation and computer science, furthering his interest in both areas. This summer he will intern at Apple, and during the fall semester, he will return to Southwest Airlines, where he interned before, to work till graduation in May 2019.
“I thought that if you were a [computer science] major you could only work for tech companies, you couldn’t work for an airline,” Doyle said. “I discovered in college that if you have a passion for aviation, whatever your major is, you can work with that.”