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Fare Finders | Tips for getting better fares

Fare Finders

(From top 100 e-commerce sites PC Computing July '99. Travel sites are the top e-commerce category. They will account for 25% of the $8 M in online shopping revenue this year.

25 Best Travel Sites at kiplinger.com Oct. 2006

  • Aggregators.
  • - Kayak.com fetches fares (plus hotel rates and other travel products, if you ask) from more than 120 sources. Click on the best deal, and Kayak.com will send you to a site where you can buy the ticket.
  • - SideStep.com
  • Fares for Southwest and ATA aren't shown on Kayak.com and most other Web sites. But at Southwest.com, you can check fares for both Southwest and its partner airline ATA.
  • Farecast.com predicts whether fares on most domestic routes will go up or down.
  • LowesTravel.com offers international tickets on more than 60 airlines and generally a broader selection than rival sites.

In a 2005 USA Today article "SideStep displayed flights and fares from 18 airlines; Orbitz displayed 13, Kayak 10, and MSN Expedia and Travelocity only six each."

MyTravelGuide.com/ consolidates searches from other sites
Farechase.yahoo.com, Kayak, Mobissimo, Qixo, SideStep or CheapFlights.com do the same thing.

AirFareWatchDog.com will notify you when rates change.

Ranked according to rataings ([Score = 9-25] by Mobile Computing & Communications (defunct now) Nov. 2001
* - Can bid on tickets.

European sites like http://www.travelprice.be/ often return better rates than US sites.

Best for Car Rental: HotWire.com ,   PriceLine, Orbitz
  See also Car Rental
Best for Hotel: HotWire.com
Hotels.com sidestep.com will search other travel sites for you.

Best for hotels: Hotelguide.com

Tips for getting better fares:

  • When to book:
  • Always buy your tickets at least 14-days in advance of your departure.
  • According to PeterGreenberg.com, Wednesday is the best day to get a deal on an airline ticket. Do not book over the weekend. Wednesdays is when arilines typically release internet-only fares.
  • Days to travel:
  • SmarterTravel.com says, "Fridays and Sundays are the busiest days of the week to travel, which also makes them the most expensive.
    Midweek flights Monday through Thursday tend to be cheaper, and red-eye or midday flights can also cost less.
  • TravelTips.FareCompare.com/ says,
    • Cheapest Travel Days are usually: Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday
      But check other days, sometimes Monday may be cheaper.
    • Most Expensive Travel Days: Monday and Friday
    • Cheapest Time of Day to Travel: Evening (except on Friday and Sunday)
  • The difference between weekdays and Sunday seemed to be more for major cities (e.g. San Francisco) than smaller cities (e.g. Sacramento) see below.
  • Most of the fare finder sites allow you to check multiple dates with a button on the search page. Travelocity seems to do this best.
  • Holidays: Thanksgiving, New years, the Sunday before memorial day or labor day are also usually cheaper.
  • The rule about staying over Saturday doesn't apply any more.
Price Predictors:
These will give you a history of how prices tend to change as you get closer to your travel date.
Note: Kayak and Bing gave me different answers for a trip 10 weeks out. Bing said to wait, Kayak said to buy.

Kayak gives you a graph

Bing: Select flights at Bing Travel.
At the top of the list they will an indicator with something like:
Tip: Wait·Fares dropping $50+·80%+ Confidence.
Tip: Buy·Fares rising or steady·68% Confidence.
You may have to wait a 10 seconds for this to show up.
Predictors are only available for economy round trips within the next 6 mos.
When I tried this in the spring of 2013 I got.
4 weeks out - Buy fares rising; 7 weeks out - Buy rising or steady; 2 mos out - wait

I did some sample fare checks for Newark, NJ to Sacramento, CA:

  • Wed to Wed in 2011 was the same as Sun to Sun on both United and Contintal.
  • Wed to Wed in Sept. 2010 was $50 less than Sun to Sun on United and the same on Continental.
  • United and Continental were lowest on Orbitz and Kayak, Continental showed a lower pice on their web page but when you read the fine print they did not include about $40 in fees. Kayak and United web sites included the fees.
  • Newark to San Francisco was about $85 less with United on Wed to Wed than on Sun to Sun.
    It was less than Sacramento on Wed. and more than Sacramento on Sunday.
Links:
How to Get Cheap Airfare - Last Minute Cheap Airfare - Cheap Airfare Robots at GaltTech.com
Travel Tips/Top 10 Lists » The 5 Rules to Finding Cheap Airfare Sales at traveltips.farecompare.com
Cheap Airfares: Michael Bluejay's how-to airfare guide

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last updated 12 Aug 2010