You are no doubt familiar with the mad dash from site to site when looking for good airfare. You try Expedia, then Kayak, then Priceline. Soon you discover that there is no deal, and no price variance.
It’s time to skip all that clicking. Price differences on travel websites flew away when the companies started merging — like the airlines, except more furiously and with less oversight — years ago.
Who owns Kayak? The Priceline Group, which also owns Booking.com, Agoda.com, Rentalcars.com and, of course, Priceline.com. Expedia Inc. own its eponymous site, plus Hotels.com, Orbitz.com, Travelocity.com, Hotwire.com and others. TripAdvisor Inc. claims 24 travel websites, including BookingBuddy.com and CruiseCritic.com.
That doesn’t mean these sites aren’t useful, with their fare forecasts and price alerts. It does mean that you can choose one and stick with it, without worrying that you’re missing a deal elsewhere.
The place I go these days? Google.com/flights. This tool offers the usual best pricing options and flexible dates. But it also makes smart suggestions. Input your available dates, and look at the “Discover destinations” section for a list of options. You can refine your search by destination (North America, Europe, etc.) and interests (honeymoon, food, wildlife, etc.). Give it a try.
By the way, as I researched this story, I checked many of the sites for airfares. The searches verified my assertion — but also prompted a pop-up advertisement from Alpha Flight Guru for inexpensive business-class tickets. Curious, I dug just a little and quickly realized that I, for one, wouldn’t buy from the company. One couple who did were denied boarding on a Lufthansa flight from Charlotte to Munich because the tickets were purchased using the frequent-flier miles of a third party — a major no-no. So, buyer beware.
Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.