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Travelers' Aid

Online Update
October 13, 2000

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Often you'll hear me mention websites and "internet only" bargains in my Deal of the Week. But a new article in the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, says the internet may not have the good deals it advertises. After an in-depth study of four major online travel sites -- Cheap Tickets, Expedia, Lowest Fare, and Travelocity -- the Travel Letter found that what you see is not necessarily what you get. All four sites say they'll get you the best deal on airfare, but fall short of the fares available to most travel agents.

The article finds what it calls "disturbing evidence" of some major problems. Most notably: confusing itineraries -- multiple stops and airline changes for what should be a simple flight; strange patterns in how itineraries are presented to you, when you do a search ... often least expensive, or most direct, doesn't come first; and, prices which mysteriously become "unavailable" when you go to book 'em. Consumer Reports' advice? When you book on the web, make like in real life: Comparison shop ... book weeks or months in advance ... and be flexible. If you can choose alternate airports, dates or times, you're more likely get a good deal.

Susan Breslow-Sardonne is the "Getaway Guru" for Yahoo Internet Life Magazine, and the Honeymoon Travel Guide for About-dot-com. She knows her way around the net. I asked her what she thinks of the advice.

If you'd like us to address your travel questions or concerns, send us an email. Or, you can snail-mail them in. The address is The Savvy Traveler, in care of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90007. Or call me at 888-SAV-TRAV.


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