With the evolution of travel Web sites, comparing prices of airfare and lodging is more accessible than ever, but thrifty travelers still need to know how to work the Web to find the best deal.
“There’s no one single bullet Web site, you’ve got to shop around,” said Rudy Maxa, travel expert and contributing editor with National Geographic Traveler magazine.
Maxa recommends starting at a Web site that provides fares for all major airlines.
CheapFlights.comis one site Maxa encourages people to use because it shows users not only the price of airfares on the dates they want to travel, but also the prices of airfare over several months.
This feature allows users to opt to fly for less on alternate dates.
Orwoll likes travel Web sites that give users freedom to compare prices on different dates and recommends FareCompare.com.
Farecompare’s Web site allows users to enter just their point of origin and the desired destination and then it pulls up almost a year’s span of average airfare.
“Right off the top, you can see what month has the best airfare,” Orwoll said.
Diane Clarkson, an online travel analyst for Jupiter Research, said she has noticed a growing trend in the popularity of tailored travel Web sites like Cheapflights.com and FareCompare.com.
“What they are offering is very appealing for the economic climate we are in,” said Clarkson. “I think there is a heightened price sensitivity and it’s drawing people to specialized sites.”
Other sites users are clicking on to save a buck are: Farecast.comand Yapta.com, Clarkson said.
Farecast, which is owned by Microsoft, offers an airfare prediction feature that helps users decide when to buy their ticket by showing increases and decreases in the price of the desired airfare within a seven-day period.
It also displays the price history of hotels to let users know if they are paying more or less than usual.
Yapta is currently a browser add-on, allows users to ‘tag’ flights on different airline’s Web sites and then Yapta notifies the user when the price drops.
Yapta also continues to track a flight for price drops after users have bought their ticket.
This feature allows users to know whether they can collect a refund from the airline if they paid more for their ticket.
When buying airfare or booking accommodations through any Web site though, Orwoll offers some money-saving advice: “Book travel and lodging well in advance, you will always get a better deal,” he said.