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Compare total prices when booking airfare online

One symptom of the slump in the travel industry is the booking fee that more and more online agencies are charging when you buy airline tickets. Although the extra cost is small?mostly $5 per booking?these fees will increase the overall price tag of your trip. Now more than ever, it’s important to compare the total price of your fare to determine which site is offering you the best deal.

The chart below lists the amount of the fee on the major online agencies, and tells you whether the fare you’re first shown includes the fee or not.

You can use the chart to guide you through your comparison shopping. For example, for a flight between New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX), we saw the price listed as $272 on Hotwire, $298 on Cheap Tickets, and $303 on Travelocity. While Cheap Tickets and Travelocity charge the same base fare (not including taxes and fees), Cheap Tickets has no booking fee, so its total price is $5 less expensive than Travelocity’s.

You could then decide if a savings of $26 is sufficient to merit choosing Hotwire, where you won’t know your airline or flight times until after you purchase tickets.

Provider Fee When you see the fee
Cheap Tickets None N/A
Expedia $5 Included in the first price shown
Hotwire $5 Included in the first price shown
OneTravel $5 Shown after submitting credit card information, but before purchase
Orbitz $5 Shown below your initial selection $5.95 Added to your initial bid
Travelocity $5 Included in the first price shown None N/A

One other thing to remember is that the price you see listed usually doesn’t include additional taxes and fees of up to $40 on domestic flights, and up to $100 or more on international flights.

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