An article in NY Times comparing several meta-search sites got me thinking about how each might or might not find the unadvertised Spring deals we reported last week between the West Coast and Hawaii.
Meta Sites like Bing Travel, FareCompare, Fly and Kayak are designed to save you time in finding the best deals.
Searching hundreds of other sites, they present pricing to you, before directing you to the site of your choice for purchase. They make money through referring you to the purchase site and through advertising.
Not one of the Meta Sites found my $336 airfare between LAX and HNL.
They couldn’t see all of the dates for the lower-priced, non advertised deals which I found on the Hawaiian Airlines site.
FareCompare missed the lower airfares in terms of the initial pricing presented, but found the deals when I clicked specific dates. It also uncovered a $329 Delta fare, that was more difficult to find.
I talked recently about how sites use backward and forward looking pricing and what that means to you while shopping online.
The examples below are screen shots of my meta flexible date search.
Bing and Kayak came closest to my $336 fare with their $352 offering. FareCompare was higher at $381 and Fly was a dollar more. I was also able to get an additional 5 percent discount using an Affiliate Code which lowered my fare to $320.
What does this mean? No one is perfect. All of these sites have a place and strive to be as accurate as possible. We’ll also keep reporting the best deals we find.
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I subscribe to Kayak, Airfare Watchdog, FareCompare, etc. When a deal comes along – I then go to the airlines’ site and my check dates. Usually it will cost the same or less when purchased directly through the airline website. We have also used Southwest Airlines to connect from the Midwest to a West Coast airline a couple of times – doing that saved us money as well. Not sure if there is any ONE WAY to find the best fare – you just have to keep looking so you know when you are looking at THE BEST fare for your particular trip and then buy :0). A lower fare may appear – we have several credits with SWA – they will credit your account if the fare drops. Not sure if other airlines will do this as well. So far, once purchased, I have not seen lower fares for our itinerary to Hawaii on our last 3 trips. We have managed to snag fares of approx $500-$550 pp RT from StL to Kona (anywhere from early Dec. to early Feb) – we cannot complain.
I concur with your process. The problem I was addressing however is that none of the subscriptions yielded the deals. As for Airfarewatchdog (Expedia owned), it can sometimes run a day or two behind in reporting the Hawaii deals.
John Hogle says
Good work. This is why I advise (and help) family and friends to use multiple sites including the airlines’ own Web sites and credit card sites.
Thanks John, and good to hear from you.