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Does new airline search tool deliver promised discounts?

At SmarterTravel.com, we often hear about new travel websites that promise the moon: Lowest fares, cheapest hotels, free vacations, you name it. Of course, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

This week, I heard about Vayama, a new international travel website that claims to offer "steep travel discounts," specially negotiated with more than 60 airlines (out of 190 providers the site searches), thus undercutting the competition.

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While the site did offer cheap fares on some routes, I can't recommend it as a one-stop shop. Like any traveler, you still have to compare a variety of providers before making an informed purchase.

I tested five international routes, for travel from August 22 through 29, on Vayama, Kayak, and Travelocity. Here's what I found:

New York to London

  • Vayama: $781 on Delta
  • Kayak: $695 on United
  • Travelocity: $733 on British Airways

Chicago to Paris

  • Vayama: $1,022 on United
  • Kayak: $962 on US Airways
  • Travelocity: $963 on US Airways

Los Angeles to Rome

  • Vayama: $1,262 on United and Lufthansa
  • Kayak: $1,325 on United and Lufthansa
  • Travelocity: $1,359 on Continental

New York to Singapore

  • Vayama: $1,358 on Cathay Pacific
  • Kayak: $1,284 on United
  • Travelocity: $1,915 on All Nippon Airways

Los Angeles to Sydney

  • Vayama: $1,066 on Qantas
  • Kayak: $1,097 on United
  • Travelocity: $1,126 on American and United

While Vayama beat Kayak and Travelocity for the Los Angeles to Rome and Los Angeles to Sydney trips, it was clearly overpriced for the other three routes I tested—by $86 for the London trip, $60 for the Paris flight, and $74 for the Singapore flight.

Keep in mind, however, the site is still in beta form, so perhaps it will have search results on par with its competitors when it officially launches. I'm interested to see if these "special rates" will start showing up more often, or if, like any other travel site, you'll sometimes find good deals here, and sometimes find better luck elsewhere. Certainly add Vayama to your list of sites to check for international travel—but don't forego checking the others before you buy.

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