Cheap tickets and vacation deals

When shopping for airline tickets, hotels, car rental, and other vacation related services, the following sites may help you find better deals:

Booking Buddy is a convenient portal from which you can search for best deals across most sites listed here and a few that are not listed.
Caribbean Hot Deals specializes in Caribbean travel for the money-conscious.
CheapFlights looks for discount airline tickets.
CheapTickets is a no-nonsense travel portal which offers last minute trips and railway tickets (Amtrak only).
CheapoAir is a travel/booking site I’ve never heard of before, but it looks as good as the more known alternatives. I wonder if these testimonials are real.
Expedia is one of the better know travel sites which offers a number of tools, including Fare Alert (installs a small icon onto your desktop; you can double-click the icon any time to see the current low fare; when Expedia finds a fare that meets or beats a pre-set price limit, a small window will pop up briefly to notify you), Cruise Compare (provides detailed comparisons of cruise ships, itineraries, activities, and more), Deal Finder (sends top destination deals to your Google home page), Limited Seat Alert (lets you know if there are only a few tickets left at a particular price), Split Payment (can split a bill in half or divide the cost of your flight and hotel in another way), and many others.
Farecompare‘s signature features include Getaway Maps showing the lowest fares from your home airport as you navigate around the globe and Airfare Deal Alerts, which sends e-mail alerts about price drops for selected destinations four hours before they are published anywhere else.
Farecast provides a 60-day lowest-price history for most popular routes along with computer-generated purchase recommendations based on the likelihood of the prices to go up, down, or stay the same within the next 90 days.
Hotwire boasts that it can offer “deals deals you won’t see anywhere else.”
Kayak searches hundreds of travel sites for the widest possible choice of prices on flights, hotels, car rentals, and cruises. You can book directly or with an online agency. Kayak provides options to chart pricing trends for a specific flight route, keep the search history, and receive fare alerts for selected destinations via e-mail. Latest deals are continuously updated. There is a somewhat hard to find link to forums, but when I clicked it, the page returned empty.
Mobissimo offers all traditional multi-site search features, plus more. For example, you can click the OneBox search link on the Airfare tab, and enter the information you’re interested in plain English, such as “San Francisco to New York May 8-14” (without quotes). You can subscribe to the latest deals (so-called MobiDeals) posted on the site via the RSS feed. Unfortunately, you cannot include multiple nearby airports — such as San Francisco International and Oakland for San Francisco or JFK, La Guardia, and Newark for New York — in the same search.
Orbitz lets you set a price for a trip and it will alert you if it can meet or beat it. You can receive real time alerts via cell phone, PDA, or e-mail. Orbitz provides travel guides and tips, insider podcasts, and a wealth of other resources. It was the only major online travel portal which allowed me to book a one-way ticket from a foreign country to the U.S. a couple of years ago (not sure if others can do this now). Notice that Orbitz does not include JetBlue Airways in its searches.
Priceline has all bells and whistles of a typical travel portal, but it also allows you to name your own price. If you’re prepared to do some work, you can get the best price. Also, read tips on how to bid.
SideStep allows you to include the nearby airports in the searches. It offers all regular search options as well as travel guides. You can subscribe to newsletters and price alerts for a specific airport or ZIP code. SideStep also offers a toolbar for Internet Explorer (but not for Firefox or any other Web browser).
Travelocity provides such extras as last minute packages, train tickets (in America and Europe), and flight status information. In addition to travel deals and limited time offers, you can subscribe to e-mail notifications for fares to your favorite destinations. Instant deal notifications can also come via the RSS feed or a new Vista gadget.
TravelZoo sends information about some hard-to-beat promotions to millions of subscribers.
Wegolo specializes in budget European airlines. It’s especially helpful if you are looking for cheapest one-way and last-minute flights across Europe.
Yapta offers a new type of service, which continues to track airfare prices even after you buy the ticket. This can help you get a partial refund if you buy your ticket directly from an airline and the price drops. At this time, Yapta only works with Internet Explorer, but a Firefox version must be coming soon. [DEC 3, 3007: Yapta has just released a Firefox extension.]

More links to travel sites:
Saving on travel
Ask the readers: Cheap airline tickets?

In certain cases, it may make sense to book tickets directly from the airlines; this way you can save on small processing fees normally charged by travel sites. Notice that some airlines — in particular, American Airlines, Continental, and USAirways — may not include extra fees and taxes in the online quotes. The following are the home pages of the airlines evaluated by Consumer Reports (July 2007, page 19) in the rating order from best to worst:

  1. JetBlue Airways (54 cities, U.S.)
  2. Midwest Airlines (50 cities, U.S.)
  3. Southwest Airlines (63 cities, U.S.)
  4. Frontier Airlines (60 cities, U.S., Canada, Mexico)
  5. Hawaiian Airlines (17 cities, Hawaii, U.S. West Coast)
  6. Aloha Airlines (11 cities, Hawaii, U.S. West Coast)
  7. Alaskan Airlines/Horizon Air (58 cities, U.S., Canada, Mexico)
  8. Spirit Airlines (36 cities, U.S., Caribbean, Latin America)
  9. Continental Airlines (286 cities, international)
  10. AirTran Airways (56 cities, international)
  11. Delta Air Lines (311 cities, international)
  12. American Airlines (250 cities, international, sister to American Eagle Airlines)
  13. ATA Airlines (18 cities, U.S., Hawaii, Mexico)
  14. Northwest Airlines (240 cities, international)
  15. United Airlines (210 cities, international)
  16. US Airways (251 cities, international, recently merged with America West Airlines)

If you are particularly interested in last minute getaways, see these sites:

Site59
Last Minute Travel

The following sites specialize in hotels and other lodging accommodations:

BedAndBreakfast.com
Hotels.com
Lodging.com
Quickbook.com

For reviews, travel guides, and recommendations, see:

Frommers
TripAdvisor

Here are some additional travel resources:

FlightAware lets you track the flight status the air traffic control data.
TripHub can help you set up and manage group trips (vacation getaways, destination weddings, family reunions, etc). You can send invitations, handle hotel reservations, flights, and money matters (who owes whom).

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