It’s no secret there are many major players out their competing for your travel dollars. While each offers their own advantages and disadvantages, I’m going to avoid playing favorites and present some advantages and disadvantages of each.
ONE STOP SHOPPING
These sites are CONSOLIDATION SITES, and save you time by providing search results for multiple sites. You don’t actually book your ticket through these sites, rather they direct you to the airline or online agency (Expedia, Orbitz, etc.) to book your ticket through them. If you have a problem with your purchase or need to ask questions about your reservation, you will need to contact the travel provider directly.
KAYAK www.kayak.com (Formerly Sidestep.com) Simple, easy to understand, and not to mention has a great color scheme. Kayak present all major airlines in a simple-to-read format and generally has everything you need in one place.
HIPMUNK www.hipmunk.com A new player to the game. Very simple site with a pretty cute chipmunk who watches overs the Google-like spreadsheet that displays each flight time based on agony and price.
TRAVELZOO www.travelzoo.com Powered by SuperSearch, also handles international travel.
BING TRAVEL www.bing.com/travel Makes use of Price Predictor (formerly Farecast Technology), which predicts if prices will rise or fall.
GOOGLE FLIGHTS www.google.com/flights Did you think the world’s largest search engine was going to be left out of this party?
THE MAJOR PLAYERS
These sites are online travel agencies. Your ticket is booked directly through them, or in some cases you will directed to the airline site to complete your purchase. Unlike the above sites, you can speak with a live operator if needed.
EXPEDIA www.expedia.com Old favorite. Still delivers the goods, and has great commercials.
TRAVELOCITY www.travelocity.com Excellent use of gnomes in their advertising. Solid.
ORBITZ www.orbitz.com Still going strong. Orbitz was formed by five major airlines in 1999, who ponied up $145 million to get the company off the ground. (Continental, Delta, Northwest, United, and American Airlines.)
NAME YOUR PRICE SITES
HOTWIRE www.hotwire.com Wonderful for college students and anyone one a budget. Hotline can also be used as a benchmark for comparing the lowest possible price for a route on another site. Drawbacks? Don’t know what airline you will be flying until you purchase your ticket.
PRICELINE www.priceline.com Name your own price. What can be better than that? Nothing. If you don’t mind what city you are routed through, and aren’t in a particular hurry to get to your destination, Priceline will deliver the goods.
CAN STILL PACK A DISCOUNT PUNCH
BOOKING BUDDY www.bookingbuddy.com
LOW FARES www.lowfares.com
SMARTER TRAVEL www.smartertravel.com
Which site will get you absolute lowest fare? That depends on your destination, the time of week you are searching, which airlines you will consider traveling on, etc. All of these sites could be a winner. But chances are, familiarizing yourself with just one or two sites will be enough to cover your booking bases.
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