We all want online tools to track low airfares. Even if you had the time to sit at your computer and wait for the best airfares, would you actually do it? No one values a low airfare that much. At the same time, budget travelers are not satisfied by paying the first fare that pops up on their monitors.
Here are four tools — in no particular order — that help cut through the confusion and give you timely information on the costs for a given flight. Try checking several at the same time to establish a baseline price for your airfare shopping.
Subscribe your email address for daily updates on low fares, visit a blog where the day's best finds are posted and a daily top 50 airfares. Most people are a bit nervous about subscribing an email address to services such as this, but the front page pledges here are "we do not sell or trade email lists," and "easy unsubscribe." You can tailor the alerts they send you to your home airport(s). They also have a "low fare of the day" feature
The Matrix 3.0 tool is tied to same ITA Software used by the airlines. It also has been recently upgraded to work with Google technology. Although it lacks the bells and whistles of some other tools -- one example is the lack of a fare alert mechanism -- Matrix will allow you to see the lowest airline fares. Armed with this knowledge, you can make a solid purchase directly from the lowest-priced airline.
With airfares constantly on the move, it's nice to know there is a tool for quickly assessing the baseline fare to a given city, and for shopping fares at nearby airports with a single glance. Take a look at Kayak's Explore, a tool which replaced the old "Buzz" when Kayak redesigned its website.
Yapta bills itself as the first to track airfares for a specific flight before or after purchase. It notifies you when fares drop. Yapta is an acronym for "Your Amazing Personal Travel Assistant." What makes this interesting to the budget traveler is the ability to target a specific flight of your choosing and then watch the airfare as you would the price of company stock. It's done with software called a "tagger" that is downloaded to your computer.
The four tools included here are certainly not the only services at your disposal on the Internet, and you might find others that do better work for you. That's why it's important to make several base comparisons as you shop.