Airfare Alerts: And Another Thing...

Tracy Stewart, April 26, 2010
Fares from Washington DC:

    Remember last week's comparison chart on airfare alert sites, and accompanying chitchat? Sure you do! Well, we mentioned it on our Facebook page too, and that got folks commenting. One such comment read as follows: 

    The fare searching/alerting system at Airfarewatchdog (which generates commission revenue via Expedia which is the same company as Airfarewatchdog) doesn't perform as well as Kayak, in my experience. With Kayak, you get these great aggregated emails, one per day, with a variety of customized destinations of your choosing. You can also view charts tracking fare trends, and pull up recent fare search results from other users to get up-to-the-minute comparisons.

    I don't have any relationship with Kayak, I just think people should know it's the best resource out there.

    Sigh. Where do we begin? Yes, Airfarewatchdog was acquired by Smarter Travel Media, which is part of the Trip Advisor Media Network, which is owned by Expedia, Inc. It happened a while back. Not a big secret, and certainly not a big deal. We still retain our right to call 'em how we see 'em, which is why the majority of our deep links to fares are on Travelocity, Orbitz, and CheapAir, all of whom are direct competitors of Expedia. So much for the implication that our goal here is to make a commission via Expedia bookings. Heck, we've even been accused of being in cahoots with Travelocity, we link to them so much.

    Why do we link to Travelocity and CheapAir so much more than Expedia? Because, almost all the fares we list can only be found by way of a flexible date search. Both Travelocity and CheapAir offer flexible searches over a period of 330 days. Expedia only offers flexible searches on major US routes, and only over a 30 day period.

    As for the idea that Kayak is the best resource out there, well, uh, not so sure about that. Don't get us wrong. We like Kayak too, and use it quite a bit. But, just to reiterate our previous post, all of these sites have their limitations (including Airfarewatchdog, including Kayak, including the rest of them), and - as a consumer - it's in your best interest to frequent multiple sites. Here's a little example. If you decide to get your fare info exclusively from Kayak, and you searched for fares from Detroit to Orlando, traveling May 24 through May 28, your search would have returned a fare of $187 round-trip on Spirit Airlines, as seen below:

    That's listed as the cheapest fare. But, if you were to search this exact same trip (same dates, same flight) directly on Spirit's web site, you'd see a fare of $123 round-trip:

    Kind of a big difference. And, ahem, not to toot our own horn or anything but, Airfarewatchdog did send out an alert for the $123 fare (toot toot!).

    Again, every site has their own merits, and it really depends on what you're looking for. Sign up for multiple alerts and you can't lose.