It is generally hard enough to figure out if you’re getting a good deal on airfare or not. Figuring out if any particular fare really is the best fare or not and what the alternatives are is not a trivial task. This past week has seen a number of changes in the airfare search landscape, all of them negative for the traveling public. Things are getting worse, not better.
First up it was FareCompare changing the way they display data. Most notable there is that they removed the "Flyertalk’ search engine from the site. That engine was great for listing all the fares from a particular departure point, filtered by carrier, alliance, destination region and other factors. The reason provided for the change was a massive back-end upgrade to comply with new fare/fee disclosure rules coming soon, theoretically a positive change for consumers. But that doesn’t change the fact that the short-term impact is quite negative.
Next up, ITA Software, now a subsidiary of Google, finally pulled the plug on the original Matrix search engine. The old matrix was simple, lightweight and speedy. The new one is none of those things. Yes, the new Matrix still can do most of the same searches that the old one could. But none of them are as fast and none are as easy, either to enter or to browse the results on. Combine that with the search results taking noticeably longer to be returned and that’s another major downgrade for customers. The old matrix was used in many of the Travel Tools site resources and I’ll be working on porting that content to the new matrix as I find time.
Strike three came this morning when Travelocity pulled the plug on their flexible fare search engine. This was a great tool for listing all the published fares in a market, reading fare rules and otherwise comparing the fare you were seeing against what could possibly be offered. Now it is dead. This also happens to be the underlying source for the Travel Tools Flexible Fare Search and SWUable Fare Search tools; both are offline right now as a result of this change and, again, I hope to have both back online soon.
Three major blows against the traveling public, all the week before Christmas. Happy holidays, indeed.
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