Thursday, March 19, 2009


With apologies to Fred Flinstone and Yapta, too, I have to say, "Yabba-Yabba-Doo," about some of the pro-consumer developments taking place in the flight-booking arena.
And, thankfully for all concerned, I don't say, "Yabba-Dabba-Doo," very often. (Incidentally, for those young folks playing on Twitter, as I do, Fred Flinstone was a cartoon character "back then," as my kids like to put it.
Anyway, in the old days of online-travel booking, before the days of metasearch and the developments I'm about to describe, you did some comparison-shopping, booked a flight and hoped you got a decent price.
But, today, you not only have Kayak,, Mobissimo and a cast of thousands (I exaggerate) to help you mix and match fares, but Farecast will dive deep into its data mine to predict if the fare will go up, down or sideways in the next week, month or holiday weekend, for that matter.
Then, this week, we have a flurry of new activity by Travelocity, with its PriceGuardian program, and Priceline with its Pricedrop Protection scheme, both of which refund money to Joe Consumer if Betty Consumer (no relation) later booked a flight or vacation package for the same itinerary at a cheaper price. Priceline's Pricedrop (it does have a nice ring to it) even refunds the difference to Ralph Consumer, who successfully made a flight bid using Name-Your-Own Price, if Nancy Consumer reserved a no-bid published fare at a lower price.
The likelihood of that happening is so remote that the data-crunchers at Farecast would have to give you the odds.
So, if Travelocity and Priceline are silently, behind the scenes, monitoring fares on your behalf (and they promise they will) to see if later bookers got lower deals on the same itineraries, Yapta instructs consumers how to get credits from the airlines if travelers booked directly on an airline website and subsequently the fare dropped. And for $15, Yapta even will phone the airline for you.
What happened to the days of pressing the enter key on your PC and booking a flight -- and just winging it, hoping you got a deal?
It's all about empowering consumers, and making the travel industry more transparent.
That's why I say: "Yapta-Yapta-Doo!"

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