Escapes

Q:

What Are The Best New Travel-Booking Sites?

Take a trip around the web and check out alternative online travel agents.

Take a trip around the web and check out alternative online travel agents.     Photo: Bet_Noire/ThinkStock

A:The Internet should make booking a trip easier. If only. Let’s not forget that today’s web is first and foremost a marketplace—and the market for travel-booking and search sites is crowded, which can make planning your next journey a little daunting.

On one side, you have online travel agencies such as Priceline and Expedia, on the other mega-search engines such as Google and Bing offering their own flight and hotel search options. In the middle, aggregators such as Kayak ostensibly allow users to compare everyone else’s screamin’ deals (I say ostensibly because many of these aggregators are now owned by the agencies, making things a little, you know, conflict-y).

Mercifully, a new wave of travel sites has popped up to try to muffle (and compete with) some of this noise, each appealing to a specific stripe of traveler or trip.    

Routehappy
Rather than just find the cheapest seats a la Priceline and Expedia, Routehappy’s database can search by roomiest seat, in-seat power and best IFE. Such amenities may drive up ticket prices a bit, but the site is banking on the fact that some fliers will pay more for a more civilized flight.

Hipmunk
Like Routehappy, this aggregator sells saner travel, sorting flights by shortest length, fewest layovers and lowest price. You can also search for hotels by “ecstasy” ranking, not to mention track your site history, so you can access it later. Throw in a killer interface and Hipmunk gets my vote for one of the finest travel sites around.

GetGoing
This site targets flexible fliers, offering big savings through its Pick Two, Get One option that asks customers to choose two different destinations they’d like to visit. The site then picks an itinerary for you (based on unsold flights on various airlines) and sells it to you at a steep discount. Surprise! You’re going to Tokyo on the cheap. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? See also: Adioso.

Options Away
For a small fee, Options Away will reserve a flight for you until you’re ready to buy ($4 for one day up to $40 for three weeks). If your plans fall apart, you’re on the hook only for the hold fee. And because the site is trading on peace of mind, it will cover the difference on the chance that your ticket fare increases while on hold. If it falls, you get the new low price.

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