Fly Smarter and Smoother

Purchasing a better — but not necessarily cheaper — flight on the Web.

If you are looking for bargains, the Web may not be the best place to look. Airline tickets are no exception – even though lots of people look for fare deals on the web. But there’s more to travel than saving money. These six travel sites offer ways to fly smarter and smoother – even if you don’t fly cheaper.


site Itinerary Perks Business Class Turbulence
Preview Travel
Top-notch travel content, wrapped around booking services for airline tickets, hotels, rental cars, and vacation packages. You’ll save money on guidebooks. Preview Travel allows you to access Fodor’s travel guides to 87 cities and to create a custom-ized guide for your trip. The “Business Travel Center” offers charts on frequent-flier programs, instructions on receiving calls in the air, and hotel-upgrade strategies. When checking out fares, you can’t “back up” on your browser: The information is erased, so you have to start over again.
Microsoft’s answer to booking planes, trains, and automobiles – as well as hotel rooms and even vacation homes. The “SeatPinpointer” lets you see which seats on your flight are taken and then choose exactly where you want to sit. When you’re booking a flight, Expedia shows how often that flight is on time – which can be helpful when you’re planning an important meeting. You can register for this site only if you’re a resident of the United States or Canada – and it looks better on Microsoft’s Internet Explorer than on those other browsers!
Flight, car, and hotel bookings from AMR, which owns the Sabre travel database that powers the site and that many travel agents use. When your destination area is served by more than one airport, Travelocity allows you to compare the fares for each option. The “Flight Paging” service will email arrival and departure times, gate changes, and delay information to your pager. The fare details that accompany a reservation appear in a technical format that only a trained travel agent could understand.
You name the price you want to pay for an airline ticket and the day you want to travel. Then you wait to see whether an airline will meet your price. If you have to fly on personal business at the last minute, this site can be a godsend. None. Priceline targets leisure travelers. Since you can’t change your ticket, the service doesn’t make sense for business travelers. Priceline often doesn’t find a ticket at your price. And if it does, you can’t back out! Consequently, there are so many warnings that you feel like you’re buying a car.
All airline tickets, all the time, from a consolidator in Honolulu that sells tickets at both published fares and unpublished discount fares. Stores your seat and meal preferences – as well as those of up to three people with whom you frequently travel – so you only have to enter your preferences once. Whether you’re making reservations for business or leisure, be sure to list your work address – someone has to sign for the ticket when it arrives. You must enter your credit-card information before you can browse through fares, and you usually can’t change your flight after you book it.
Airfares and hotel rates from a Pennsylvania-based consolida- tor of online discounts. Many airlines send out weekly emails advertising their Web specials. This site gathers information from participating airlines and emails you listings tailored to your preferences. The “Rules of the Air” section tells you exactly what your options are when your flight is delayed, or you’re bumped from a flight, and covers luggage limits and other regulations. Links to other travel agencies and to special- interest sites are somewhat sparse.