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Best Search Engine For Airline Tickets

2Blessed

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I am so frustrated!! I am searching for 3 airlines tickets for 12/26 and returning on 12/31. Yes, I know this is peak travel period, but thought I could get better fares by searching 60 days out. I found a fare of $278 on Travelocity, and $338 on Orbitz. When I went to book the $278 fare, it jump to $452. I have been searching most of the day, and I cannot find anything close to the original price. I need you guys to help me with a strategy. Are there other search engines that I should use? In addition to the ones that I mention above, I have also tried Expedia, Travelzoo and the different airline websites. Do you think I should try to move my departure date to 12/27, and book this online at midnight tonight? There has to be an easier way. Any suggestions? Thanks.

Brenda

Edited to add: Forgot to mention that I am searching for flights leaving Jacksonville, FL and Seattle, WA is the arrival city.
 

Dave M

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That's a pretty good fare for the holidays. If you can still find $338, I would grab it.

The $278 fare might not have existed at any point today. Travelocity and some other search engines sometimes come up with fares that exist in an airline's fare structure but are not available for puirchase.
 

2Blessed

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Dave,

I thought that was a good price, but when I tried to grab it, poof, it was gone. The lowest price that I can see now is $505!! Ouch!! I am going to give this a rest until later tonight. :(


Dave M said:
That's a pretty good fare for the holidays. If you can still find $338, I would grab it.

Yes, this is what I strongly believed happened. It is amazing all the different games that you have to play. The fares on the search engines are always cheaper than they are on the airlines website.
The $278 fare might not have existed at any point today. Travelocity and some other search engines sometimes come up with fares that exist in an airline's fare structure but are not available for puirchase.
 

Dave M

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Unfortunately, you have chosen some of the most heavily traveled days of the year for your trip and the cheapest fares are likely long gone. By using Travelocity's three-day variable window, it's clear you can save over $100 by leaving on 12/25. Otherwise, it's likely to be a costly trip.
 

mayson12

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It's such a crapshoot...

It seems like sometimes I get a better price from different websites. Lately I've liked using www.kayak.com . They seem to have a good range. www.mobissimo.com is another. Good luck with that airfare. It can be so frustrating.
 

Dori

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I have had good luck with Sidestep. When I find a fare I like, it takes me to the airline site, where I book directly with them.

Dori
 

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I have seen Travelocity do that many times that I no longer check with them. You can check back with Travelocity again in a couple of hours again you will see that price and try to book it and it will say sorry the price has increased..................
 

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My extensive searches have proven that sidestep.com and expedia generally turn up the best and similar prices. I will often check the airlines website for these cheapest fare to make sure they can't be gotten cheaper yet.
 

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Airline Ticket sites

I have found that itasoftware.com is the best for me. It will give you length of flight practically all the info you need to make agood decision. After checking on itasoftware.com I usually go back the the airlines website to book my flight. Good luck.
 

John Cummings

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I am yet to ever see a cheaper fare on a travel web site than what is available on the airline's own web site. I use sidestep and some others strictly to get an idea of the fares and what airlines fly to where I want to go. I then check the fares on the airlines web sites and book directly with them as it is always as cheap or cheaper than the travel web sites.
 

CMF

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Sidestep.com

I check a couple of sites but always include sidetstep.com and then check if Southwest flies from the DC area airports to my destination.

Good luck.
Charles
 

Bucky

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John Cummings said:
I am yet to ever see a cheaper fare on a travel web site than what is available on the airline's own web site. I use sidestep and some others strictly to get an idea of the fares and what airlines fly to where I want to go. I then check the fares on the airlines web sites and book directly with them as it is always as cheap or cheaper than the travel web sites.
This is just the opposite of what I usually have found. A prime example was just this morning. I searched mobissimo.com and found a Delta flight to SXM out of RDU for $610. This wasn't the cheapest flight available, just the one I wanted because of the arrival and departure times. I then went to the Delta website and the same flight was $662. When I queried a Delta reservations clerk all they could say was $662 was the best they could do. The flight on mobissimo.com was through 1-800-cheapseats.com
 

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Dave M said:
The $278 fare might not have existed at any point today. Travelocity and some other search engines sometimes come up with fares that exist in an airline's fare structure but are not available for puirchase.
Actually that's not true. They way the fare search engines work is based on previous requests within 'x' amount of minutes. They keep track of valid available fares which can be booked and place them in "cache". This is a method to reduce the number of accesses they have to make to another airlines reservations system, because they get charged for each access.

So, when you did your original search, that cheaper fare existed within the past 'x' minutes, so they displayed it to you. However, since the time they had "cached" that fare, it sold out via a method other than their processes. If somebody on their system, Orbitz for instance, had taken the last seat available at that fare, they would have removed the item from their cache.

If the search engines didn't use this methodology, their costs of doing business would go up dramatically as the "look to book" ratios are so incredibly high for internet users. "Look to book" is the ratio of how many times a user will look at a fare before they actually book it.

Hope that explains, at a very high level, how the Orbitz/Expedia/Travelocity,etc processes work.
 

Dave M

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Your statements are valid in theory, but apparently not always in fact, Doug.

Travelocity is probably the biggest offender in this regard. It's not uncommon to find a low fare - much lower than on any other site - on Travelocity that can't be booked for a particular itinerary. I have often found such a fare to exist on Travelocity for several days or more for a particular routing with no ability to actually book it.

There has been much discussion and confirmation of this Travelocity problem on FlyerTalk. The general consensus in those discussions is along the lines of your statements as to how Travelocity's fare finder should work. However, there is an apparent flaw in Travelocity's software programming.

Edited to add:

I recognize that with airline yield management, such a low fare might be available, then not available, then available, etc. a number of different times over several days. However, the nature of tests that I (and others at FlyerTalk) have performed make such an explanation for the observed problem statistically very unlikely - at least for some instances.
 
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DougH

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Dave M said:
Your statements are valid in theory, but apparently not always in fact, Doug.
I appreciate your input, but it's not theory - it's fact. I do software design/consulting for the web-sites you are mentioning...and I know for a fact how they work. There are also items called 'private fares', that can show as valid fares, but can only be booked by certain people based on POS (point of sale) methodologies.
 

Dave M

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I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on this.

I understand the work you do, as you and I have discussed it previously.

I also appreciate how it's supposed to work, but it doesn't always work as it's supposed to.

When one inputs a specific itinerary approximately 20 times scattered over 16 hours and does the same thing for the following two days, as a number of us did to test what was happening, and every time the same fare shows up and not once could it be booked, there's something wrong with the software.

We were able to demonstrate the problem and notified Travelocity of the problem, along with how we did our tests, and never heard back other than a "thank you for your input".

I looked for one of the applicable threads on FlyerTalk, but thus far haven't been able to locate it.
 

DougH

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Read the last line of my last message regarding "private fares". Point of Sale can determine who can actually book a fare. Many can 'see' it, but only certain people can book it. That might be why Travelocity said "thanks for your input", but never responded back.

Once again, I appreciate your valuable input in all your postings on TUG, but this is something I know for a fact...it's not theory based on testing. I'm not trying to be contentious...just stating a truism here.

Also to be sure...I'm not saying that all software is free from blemish...if my code were that way...I'd certainly not be using timeshares...I'd own my own island. :)
 

2Blessed

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Doug,

Are you saying that you designed flawed software? Like Dave, I am not sure what the problem is, but I sure get excited when I see a good fare, only to find out a few seconds later that I cannot book it. I am no computer guru by a long shot, but it does appear that something is wrong. Hey, how can I get on that very special person list so I can book the POS? :) Thanks for the explanation.

Brenda

DougH said:
Read the last line of my last message regarding "private fares". Point of Sale can determine who can actually book a fare. Many can 'see' it, but only certain people can book it. That might be why Travelocity said "thanks for your input", but never responded back.

Once again, I appreciate your valuable input in all your postings on TUG, but this is something I know for a fact...it's not theory based on testing. I'm not trying to be contentious...just stating a truism here.

Also to be sure...I'm not saying that all software is free from blemish...if my code were that way...I'd certainly not be using timeshares...I'd own my own island. :)
 

DougH

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Have I designed flawed software??? Oh boy could I tell you stories. But for the given example in these posts, I'm about 99.999% certain it's not a software flaw.
 

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I have had success with all of them for cheap fares but one time had a problem with qixo quoting a fare it could not follow through with. Other times not a problem. It was a fare I was dissappointed in not being able to obtain at the time. I was able to get a fare of $340 round trip per person to london from nyc one year from vipfares for an august trip for a family of five. Great fare for the summer of 2004!
 
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2Blessed

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Update

Earlier tonight I was able to book my tickets online using Expedia. I got them for $432.00 including taxes and all the other fees. I am glad the searching game is finally over. I believe I checked each one of the recommended sites today and early evening. Boy am I exhausted!! Travelocity is still in my opinion, a bait and switch fares site. Orbitz had a lot of overnight flights on the return flights. Expedia worked fine for this trip. I have added all the sites to my favorites, so I can use them again in the future. Thanks again for all your suggestions.

Brenda
 

loosefeet

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If the sites are just going up and up in price, I wait until the next day and try early in the AM...often the cheaper fares will show up...but that often means I need to buy b/c there are few available at the cheaper price.
 
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