Decoding Secrets Of Airplane Seating

New web sites are springing up for business travelers who want to see all their options before booking a flight. Both expertflyer.com and itasoftware.com give travelers a level of pricing detail they just wouldn't get from the more general travel Web sites, such as Expedia or Orbitz. "We're for the road warriors, the business travelers and frequent fliers who have some status in their programs," says Chris Lopinto of ExpertFlyer.

What really sets these two sites apart is their comprehensiveness: you can easily see the various prices and rules for every seat on every flight to any destination. Each seat is signified by its own letter code. For example, a "Y" code typically means full fare on the plane. The "B" code offers almost all the privileges of a full-price "Y" ticket, but is often just a couple of hundred dollars above coach. You want to master the alphabet soup of airfare pricing and understand why talking to a reservations agent in the old days was so frustrating? Just take a look at these Web sites.

Subscribers to ExpertFlyer pay $100 a year for unlimited access. Instead of simply comparing prices for flights, they can find out, for example, how much more it costs to get a favorite seat or upgradeable ticket or how to wind up on a plane so empty that bumping up to first class might really happen. Subscribers can also override typical airline routing in order to arrange layovers in particular cities.

Similar data are posted free by ITA Software in Cambridge, Mass., whose Web site is a little less full-featured--and downplayed by ITA, because it sells the same data to commercial Web sites. Neither site books travel or sells tickets, but travelers who know what they want can use the sites to optimize their miles and dollars, and then call airlines directly. Armed with the correct inside information, you'll have them at your mercy.

Decoding Secrets Of Airplane Seating | News