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What's the Deal: An Airfare Crystal Ball?

Carol Sottili

Farecast has been on the leading edge of geeky, yet incredibly useful, analysis of airfares for a few years. But up until yesterday morning, the site's claim to fame -- predicting whether a specific airfare would go up, down or stay the same -- was restricted to certain domestic cities pairs.

At 8 a.m. today, the site was scheduled to expand its capabilities: Predictions will now be available for more than 200 international destinations in Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean and Canada.

The software gurus at Farecast spent a year studying 13 billion international airfares before they were secure enough about the technology to launch, according to Mike Fridgen, Farecast's vice president of marketing and product development. I spent about a half-hour with Fridgen putting the new application through its paces, and can say it's definitely worth a look.

Plug in Washington Dulles to Amsterdam, for example, with your dates of travel, and it comes up with a list of prices, predicts whether to buy now or wait, displays a low-fare history, etc. Do a flexible search (under travel tools) and a graph pops up showing the fare history to your chosen city. Trying to decide if London is cheaper? No problem -- just add London to the graph to compare. And if you don't care where you go, but you want to spend $500 or less, click on map, slide the bar to $500 and it'll tell you what cities qualify.

A hint: Don't be afraid to let your mouse roam around the page and to click buttons. You'll find yourself being drawn deeper into Farecast's wealth of info. If you're a numbers guy/gal or someone who really wants a bargain, you'll discover many ways to fine-tune or expand your search. A warning: If you're intrigued by such technology, give yourself plenty of time to explore. The site can be addicting.

Put it through its paces, and let us know what you think. And if you want a peek at this week's best deals, check out the Travel page later today when the What's the Deal? column is posted.

By Carol Sottili |  February 8, 2008; 7:52 AM ET  | Category:  Air Travel , Carol Sottili , Deals
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Hmm. They still haven't added my (domestic) hometown. I would love this site so much if they covered more medium-ish airports.

Posted by: Julia | February 8, 2008 10:05 AM

Well, I tried to search for Rome (which said it now had predictions), Madrid, and Venice. None worked.

Posted by: cd | February 8, 2008 11:36 AM

The only European cities covered from WAS so far are Amsterdam, London, Paris & Rome. I guess that's a start, but they need to add other major destinations like Frankfurt. I haven't found this site to be of much use thus far... even with domestic destinations. I wish it could provide predictions for 6 months out... not just 90 days.

Posted by: Erika | February 12, 2008 8:47 PM

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