Who Has the Lowest Airfare?

By: Kate Nerenberg

Style > Best Bargains Package

Lots of web sites promise to find travelers the lowest airfare. Which ones consistently deliver?

We tested a handful of sites, including big names like Travelocity and Orbitz, on international and domestic fares. The winners of our test: sister sites Kayak.com and Sidestep.com.

Kayak and Sidestep did the most comprehensive searches, each time finding the lowest fare. They gather prices from similar sites such as Vayama.com and Priceline.com and include low-cost carriers JetBlue and Southwest, which most sites do not.

Before booking a flight, you might still check with the airline; low-fare Web sites often miss a one-time deal or include booking fees—although Kayak and Sidestep don’t. On some of our tests, the airline site offered the exact same fare; in others, the airline’s fare was higher.

Two Web sites helped us figure out if we should buy a Washington-to-Rome ticket that week or hold out. Are your plans flexible? Farecompare.com lists prices for traveling over the next 11 months—it suggested waiting until October to go to Rome, when the round trip would be more than $300 less. Ready to buy a ticket? Farecast.com forecasts prices seven days out—it advised us to buy that week because prices have historically risen $128 to $476 the following week.

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