Home > Travel > Online Travel Agencies and Meta-Search Engines

Some of the web's most popular user-generated travel guides include Wikitravel, Expedia's Travel Advisor, Travelocity's IgoUgo.com and World 66.

Before you pick your seat on the plane, check out SeatGuru. The site provides layouts of all the commercial airliners and tells you which seats have the most leg room, which are by the bathroom, which don't recline, etc.

online travel agencies and meta-search engines

Kayak is the biggest player in the online search engine/aggregator business, and for good reason. You can search for fares and rates from over 140 sites all in one place including Orbitz, CheapTickets, individual airlines, hotel chains (like Marriott & InterContinental) and rental car agencies. You can also choose to have your search results for Priceline, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Expedia, Travelocity and Vayama (for international flights) open automatically on a separate page. I like the fact that the hotel results page features large photos of each hotel and you can narrow your search using all kinds of options (pet friendly, airport shuttle, etc.). I also like the "Buzz" section where flexible travelers can hunt for the lowest fares to anywhere.
Book: Flights, Hotels, Car Rental and Cruises

This is Microsoft's online aggregator. It operates much the same way as Kayak, but it also has a feature which predicts if the fare you searched will go up, down or remain the same in the near future. Use the Map, Grid and Graph Views to determine when to travel, where to travel and how long to travel to get the best fares. Farecast also tells you whether a particular hotel rate is a good deal, an average rate, or a poor deal based on past rates.
Book: Flights, Hotels

Already bought your airline ticket? Enter your flight info into Yapta's website and it'll help you take advantage of an underutilized airline policy that allows you to get a cash refund or travel voucher equal to the price difference if your flight's fare drops before you fly. Yapta continuously tracks the price of your flight. If the price drops, Yapta will alert you and tell you how to get a refund or voucher. Yapta also has a free downloadable tool that lets you tag flights you are interested in and alerts you when the prices drop. This service only works with domestic airline sites like American, Delta, JetBlue, United and Continental, not meta-search sites like Kayak or online travel agencies like Expedia or Orbitz.
Track: Flights

Speed up your search process. BookingBuddy allows you to enter your travel dates and requirements just once -- then click on their links to Kayak, Orbitz, Priceline, Hotels.com and other travel sites and see the results.
Track: Flights, Hotels, Cars, Cruises & Vacations

Here's what I love about this site - it tracks fares from all the usual carriers, PLUS Southwest AND it includes special fares that are normally only found on the airlines' websites. Adventuresome travelers will love the feature that allows you to type in a departure city and find out the lowest fares to everywhere.
Track: Flights only

Meta-Search Engines

SideStep - SideStep was acquired by Kayak, so you'll get the same search results here as you do on Kayak. But SideStep does have a few features that Kayak doesn't: an optional downloadable toolbar that allows you to do easy price comparisons with other travel booking websites, newsletters and travel guides.

Mobissimo - For flights, hotels & car rental.

Farechase - Yahoo's meta-search engine. For flights, hotels & car rental.

Farecompare - This site is powered by Kayak, but it has a different calendar-based interface that some people prefer. In a quick glance, you can easily see how the price to your destination changes from day to day and month to month. The site also offers great tips on how to travel first-class on the cheap. For flights only.

Vayama - A meta-search engine that specializes in international fares.

cFares - Use their free meta-search engine or upgrade with a $50 platinum membership, which gives you access to unpublished wholesale inventory and instant rebates. According to the site, membership usually pays for itself in 1-2 flights. This site was Travel & Leisure Magazine's "Best for Airfares" web pick. For flights and hotels.

Inside Trip A fare aggregator for flights that ranks your results according to what's important to you: legroom, on-time stats, aircraft age and type, etc. For flights only.

Online Travel Agencies

Expedia - For flights, cars, hotels, cruises and vacation packages.

Orbitz - For flights, cars, hotels, cruises, rail and vacation packages.

Travelocity - For flights, cars, hotels, cruises, rail and vacation packages. Also powers Yahoo! Travel.

Cheaptickets.com - For flights, cars, hotels, cruises, rail, vacation packages and events tickets.

Hotwire - Operates two different ways. You can compare rates and book travel with specific hotels, airlines, etc just as you would with Expedia or Orbitz. Or, you get an even lower rate by booking first and THEN learning the name of the hotel, airline, etc. you'll be using after you make the reservation. For flights, cars, hotels, packages and cruises. Hotwire is owned by Expedia.

Priceline - Compare rates on specific hotels, airlines, etc. as you would at Expedia or Orbitz or "name your own price" and if your bid is accepted, you'll get even deeper discounts, but you won't find out your hotel/airline/car rental company name until after your bid is accepted. For flights, cars, hotels and cruises. You can also book airport shuttles and limos, tours and attractions.