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Best Airfare Websites
Cheap Tickets to Miami
by Tour Guide Owl

Tour Guide Owl at the AirportWhere can I find cheap airline tickets?.. Who's got the best airfare website? Both are great questions. Because flying ain't cheap, and we all want to save money.

Hello gang! It's me Tour Guide Owl. Hope you're all enjoying the "101 Fun Attractions". I'm back with a review of the best all around travel websites.

Buying airline tickets online can be a big hassle. It seems everybody sells tickets and they all offer slightly different services and rates. What I discovered on my quest for tour guide excellence... is to find the cheapest fare, you often need to search multiple sites.

Also, each travel site has their own special features like searching multiple carriers and naming your own fare. Your best bet is to search around for a site that fits your style and research a few different options.

So I'm breaking it down with a review of 8 online travel agencies...

Let's begin the review!

1. Kayak.com

Kayak I'm listing Kayak first because what they do is search over 100 other airfare websites at once and then offer up the cheapest rates. The site is easy to use and results display quickly, considering they are searching tons of sites. The interface is no-frills, but it works well to compare available itinerary/price combinations with one search. Kayak was created by the co-founders of Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia.

  • No booking fees
  • A tool that lets you see the best fares for similar routes found by other Kayak visitors.
  • You can get fare alerts and tailor searches for preferred airlines, airports or dates.
  • Kayak.com finds fares from airlines like JetBlue that don’t sell through online agencies.
  • Since they also check the airline websites, you can book directly with the carrier, avoiding the service fees charged by Orbitz, Expedia and Travelocity.
  • While they offer international flights, shoppers have found other sites offer better international selections.

2. Expedia.com

ExpediaExpedia is currently our favorite way to search for cheap airline tickets (and hotels and even rental cars). Founded as a division of Microsoft in October 1996, Expedia also operates Hotels.com, Hotwire.com and TripAdvisor.com making them one of the largest travel retailers in the world. In 2006, Expedia was awarded a Webby Award for "Best In Travel Website", and the top rating in customer satisfaction across online travel agencies by the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

  • Because of their size, Expedia can often negotiate the lowest prices on airfares, hotels, and vacation packages. (Mrs. Owl booked our honeymoon in Maui with an Expedia vaction package. The hotel by itself was over $300/night. With the vacation package... including airfare, the trip was only $260 per day.)
  • Florida travelers should note, with Expedia's "Hassle-free Hurricane Promise", if a hurricane warning is issued for your destination, Expedia will waive their cancellation fees and work with their partners on your behalf to waive those cancellation fees and to rebook you a new trip.
  • The "Best Price Guarantee" insures that if you find a lower price, within 24 hours of your booking, Expedia will refund the difference. They will also throw in a $50 travel coupon, which beats many of their competitors' guarantee programs.
  • The J.D. Power travel satisfaction survey said Expedia is best at vacation packages and is easy to use.
  • Expect to pay a $5 booking fee; additional fees for booking by phone or requesting paper tickets.
  • All original departure cities from Expedia.com must be within the United States, so travelers from other countries must login to their local sites (ex. Expedia.ca or Expedia.co.uk) to see what's available in their regions.

3. Priceline.com

pricelineHow Priceline works is shoppers say where and when they want to fly. Priceline will check the lowest available fares for that time. Or, you can "Name your own Price" and place a "bid" on that ticket. Priceline searches for airlines with seats available on those days, and tries to buy the seats for that bid amount. If the bid is rejected as too low, you can increase the bid and try again in 72 hours. Many times, you will be shown an offer that was accepted if your original bid was rejected. You can choose to take that option or bid again in 72 hours. Priceline's official spokesperson is William Shatner, who agreed to do the spots for free in exchange for stock in the company.

  • Reviews say a bid of about $100 per night often gets you a great deal on a 4-star hotel.
  • Consumer Reports says that "blind travel" sites turn up deals that can save you 40 percent or more.
  • Visitors can also choose Priceline's bidding engine for bigger discounts on blind bookings.
  • The major downside is you do not know which airline you will be flying, or even the times of your flights until after you agree to purchase the ticket.
  • Sometimes the site will require that you choose a different airport before it will accept your bid.
  • Flights purchased on blind sites tend to be non refundable.
  • Travelers don't earn frequent flyer miles for flights booked on a blind site.

4. Travelocity.com

travelocity Owned by Sabre group, Travelocity is an online travel agency based in Southlake, Texas. Travelocity is the second largest online travel agency in the United States. Their mascot is known as the "The Roaming Gnome" and their slogan is "You'll never roam alone." Travelocity is condifent in the strength of their partner relationships and the skill and passion of their Team. Their "Customer Bill of Rights"assures that when you book with them and encounter any problem with your booking, they will work with their partners to make it right.

  • Travelocity's "Fare Watcher" tracks the best round trip fares offered for up to five city pairs of your choice. The feature will send you an email update when fares to your selected destinations drop.
  • Travelocity is also beta testing a new RSS fare alert service that sends you messages when pre-selected destinations drop below 20%.
  • If you purchase airline tickets and notify them within 24 hours of your purchase that you've booked the wrong dates, they'll rebook your tickets without charging a change or cancellation fee.
  • If you find a lower ratewithin 24 hours of booking, they will refund you the difference , plus a $50 off coupon for purchase of future travel.
  • Online registration is required.
  • Watch out for cancellation fees. The website and your itinerary state that the cancellation fee is $25 up to the total cost of your reservation.

5. Hotwire.com

HotwireHotwire is a discount travel site that offers low rates by working with top travel suppliers to fill unsold rooms. However, unlike the similar "Name Your Own Price" model used by Priceline.com, Hotwire shows prices and some other details up front. Booking fees are included in prices. If you're a flexible traveler, Hotwire is more likely to get you the lowest possible fare.

  • Hotwire's "Travel Ticker" finds travel deals and special offers you won't find on other sites. Every week, they find the best travel deals, and deliver them to your inbox each Wednesday.
  • In a survey of 6,800 travelers, Hotwire beats Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia in customer satisfaction.
  • A J.D. Powers' survey revealed shoppers were most satisfied with Hotwire's ease of use and low prices.
  • Consumer Reports says that "blind travel" sites turn up deals that can save you 40 percent or more.
  • Overall, for both flights and hotels, Hotwire gets higher marks than Priceline in reviews, particularly for ease of use and site navigation.
  • The major downside is that you do not know which airline you will be flying or even the times of your flights until after you agree to purchase the ticket.
  • Sometimes the site will require that you choose a different airport before it will accept your bid.
  • Flights purchased on blind sites tend to be non refundable.
  • Travelers don't earn frequent flyer miles for flights booked on a blind site.

6. SouthwestVacations.com

SouthwestSouthwest Airlines is a low fare airline based in Dallas, Texas. It is the largest airline in the United States by number of passengers carried domestically for any one year. As part of its effort to control costs, Southwest tries to utilize secondary airports which generally have lower costs. Its reputation for low prices and a laid-back atmosphere have made it an icon of pop culture. If you have never flown Southwest Airlines, this airline does not have seat assignments. Most of Southwest tickets are issued directly by the airline over the phone or online at the company's website which features Web only fare discounts.

  • The wesbsite often has cheap tickets on FL Travel to Orlando, Miami, Key West, and Ft. Lauderdale.
  • Southwest also has Florida vacation packages to Disney World Resort and Universal Studios.
  • You can check fares for both Southwest and its partner airline ATA.
  • Your flight attendants may entertain you during the flight with a joke or song.
  • Many travelers enjoy the casual atmosphere of Southwest Airlines along with the low cost.
  • Passengers who collect their boarding passes earliest are put into the first boarding group.
  • Southwest does not offer Ticketless travel. You must present your paper tickets when you check in.
  • Fares for Southwest and ATA are not shown on Kayak.com and most other travel websites.
  • Since this is the low-cost carrier, passengers do not get to see a movie.

7. Orbitz.com

orbitzOrbitz was started in 1999 when Delta, Northwest, Continental, and United Airlines joined forces to produce a website which would compete against the online travel agencies by offering discounted rates on airfares for these major airlines. Orbitz was also the first company to air television ads with gay and lesbian travelers.

  • Orbitz is easy to use and shows you rates and prices of a flight from one airline compared to another.
  • You can see if the flight is non-stop or if there is a layover in another location.
  • Orbitz will alert you by email, or phone if there has been a delay or cancellation in your flight plans
  • The site allows you to select you own seats, which not all of the other travel sites allow.
  • Travelers can receive "Deal Detector" fare alerts sent via phone, email, or RSS feed.
  • Orbitz also offers customers, who may not have a computer or internet access, the ability to listen to available fares and discounted rates by phoning into their call center.
  • In a survey by J.D. Power and Associates, travelers indicated being least satisfied overall with Orbitz, which gets lower ratings for site navigation and ease of use.

8. CheapTickets.com

Cheap TicektsA sister company to Orbitz, CheapTickets started selling discounted airline tickets back in 1986. It launched its website in 1997, becoming a pioneer in Internet travel sales. CheapTickets is easy to use and shows you rates and prices of a flight from one airline compared to a flight from another airline. You can see if the flight is non-stop or if there is a scheduled layover in another location.

  • All airfares displayed show both the fare and the total price (including taxes and fees), so there are no surprises at the checkout counter.
  • "Price Alerts" allow you to set a target price for any flight you choose and you will receive an e-mail alert if and when there is a fare that matches that price.
  • The " Value Travel Cheapometer" predicts when travelers can expect to save the most on travel costs to specific destinations based on the travel month they choose, to help with planning your next big trip.
  • The response time for search results can be somewhat sluggish.
  • The "Travel Deals" that are featured often have several restrictions, or are only available from select departure points, so be sure to read all the terms and conditions before you get your hopes up.
  • There is an abundance of information hidden in little pockets throughout the site, but it is not always evident where to find what you're looking for... even the Sitemap does not have all the relevant links, so if you want anything beyond basic pricing and reservations, you have to do some creative searching.

Miami Community Disclosure: Miami Beach 411 is an airline ticket website affiliate and when you book a flight (or hotels or car rentals) through these sites we get a small commission. That said, this review is based on which travel sites we like and the ones our visitors find the most helpful.

Let us plan your trip. We provide travel, tours and transportation in Miami, Florida. Some of the other cities we offer service include Fort Lauderdale, Key West, and Orlando. Call us today (305) 754-2206.

Have fun!

And enjoy your trip!

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