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One More Airfare Site to Add to Your List

SmarterTravel

At SmarterTravel.com, we always advocate comparing airfares among a variety of travel providers. A reader from Vermont recently wrote in to recommend one more: ITA Software.com.

ITA, an airline IT and tech services provider, has a search tool on its website that harnesses the research capabilities of its products. “[The site is] particularly useful if your dates are flexible,” says our Vermont reader. “In addition … [it] lists the airfares including all the taxes, bells, whistles, etc., so you do not get blindsided by an extra $300 or so of taxes when you thought you had found a good fare.”

I put ITA’s website to the test against other travel aggregators and found it had both perks and drawbacks. Here’s the breakdown:

Pros:

  • ITA enables travelers to search international routes using flexible dates, up to one month in advance. Most flex-date searches on other travel aggregators are currently limited to domestic routes, so this can be a great research tool for international travel.
  • The site lists fares with all taxes and fees included, so you don’t have to click through to see the final price for your flights.
  • Useful itinerary details, such as “long [[ Layover | layover ]]” and “tight [[ Connection | connection ]]” are shown in red in the search results.

Cons:

  • Currently, travelers cannot book directly on the ITA website—you’ll have to do research there, then hunt down the fare from the provider directly or go through a travel agent.
  • When searching specific travel dates (rather than a flex-date search), I found ITA didn’t save much money compared to competitors that allowed you to book directly.

In short, if you have extra time, it wouldn’t hurt to add ITA to your list of travel sites to check, particularly if you’re flying overseas. Just remember you’re going to need extra time to find their great fares elsewhere, since you can’t book there.

Have a great travel tip you’d like to share? Send your insider travel strategies to editor@smartertravel.com.

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