Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
will also send you e-mail notification
when a cheap fare becomes available
to your favorite destination. Of the
smaller travel agency websites, Side-
Step ( has garnered
the best reviews from Frommer's
authors. It's a browser add-on that
purports to “search 140 sites at once,”
but in reality only beats competitors'
fares as often as other sites do.
Also remember to check airline
websites, especially those for low-fare
carriers such as Southwest, JetBlue,
AirTran, WestJet, or Ryanair, whose
fares are often misreported or simply
missing from travel agency websites.
Even with major airlines, you can
often shave a few bucks from a fare by
booking directly through the airline
and avoiding a travel agency's transac-
tion fee. But you'll get these discounts
only by booking online: Most airlines
now offer online-only fares that even
their phone agents know nothing
about. For the websites of airlines that
fly to and from your destination, go to
“Getting There,” later in this chapter.
Great last-minute deals are avail-
able through free weekly e-mail serv-
ices provided directly by the airlines.
Most of these are announced on Tues-
day or Wednesday and must be pur-
chased online. Most are only valid for
travel that weekend, but some (such as
Southwest's) can be booked weeks or
months in advance. Sign up for
weekly e-mail alerts at airline websites
or check megasites that compile com-
prehensive lists of last-minute specials,
such as Smarter Living (smarter For last-minute trips, and lastminutetravel.
com in the U.S. and
in Europe often have better air-and-
hotel package deals than the major-
label sites. A website listing numerous
bargain sites and airlines around the
world is .
If you're willing to give up some
control over your flight details, use
what is called an “opaque” fare
service like Priceline (www.priceline.
com; for Euro-
peans) or its smaller competitor
Hotwire ( Both
offer rock-bottom prices in exchange
for travel on a “mystery airline” at a
mysterious time of day, often with a
mysterious change of planes en route.
The mystery airlines are all major, well-
known carriers—and the possibility of
being sent from Philadelphia to
Chicago via Tampa is remote; the air-
lines' routing computers have gotten a
lot better than they used to be. But
your chances of getting a 6am or 11pm
flight are pretty high. Hotwire tells you
flight prices before you buy; Priceline
usually has better deals than Hotwire,
but you have to play their “name our
price” game. If you're new at this, the
helpful folks at BiddingForTravel
( do a good
job of demystifying Priceline's prices
and strategies. Priceline and Hotwire
are great for flights within North
America and between the U.S. and
Europe. But for flights to other parts of
the world, consolidators will almost
always beat their fares. Note: In 2004
Priceline added nonopaque service to
its roster. You now have the option to
pick exact flights, times, and airlines
from a list of offers—or opt to bid on
opaque fares as before.
For much more about airfares and
savvy air-travel tips and advice, pick
up a copy of Frommer's Fly Safe, Fly
Smart (Wiley Publishing, Inc.).
Shopping online for hotels is generally
done one of two ways: by booking
through the hotel's own website or
through an independent booking
agency (or a fare-service agency like
Priceline; see below). These Internet
hotel agencies have multiplied in
mind-boggling numbers of late, com-
peting for the business of millions of
consumers surfing for accommoda-
tions around the world. This compet-
itiveness can be a boon to consumers
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