Ever used bestfares.com? Gotten good airfare prices elsewhere?
April 11, 2006 6:34 AM   Subscribe

Bestfares.com. Scam or worthwhile deals? Does anybody have experience with bestfares.com? It's a $60 annual membership to get, ostensibly, below "sale" prices on lots of fares. And they look cheap. 'm most interested in airfares only (US + Int'l) and not in cruises, Vegas junkets, or hotels. Is it worth it? Any other hot ideas for actually getting cheap fares to, say, Europe?
posted by zpousman to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I can't speak of Bestfares, but I did sign up for an Air Courier Association membership, and have found it to be fairly useless - their site's main feature is a meta-search engine, and I've yet to see anything that looks like a bargain that's unique to them. I sort of suspect Bestfares is a similar waste of money, like websites that promise unlimited free movie downlads, but in reality are just selling tutorials on how to use kazaa.

Farecompare, on the other hand, looks to be very useful. It's returning some very low prices, clearly states what additional fees there are, and allows you to 'browse' departure and return dates without constantly using drop-down menus and the back-button.
posted by unmake at 6:54 AM on April 11, 2006

I use Farecompare and Booking Buddy fairly often and usually end up fairly happy with the deals I get.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 7:00 AM on April 11, 2006

You'll never get those prices. You'll go to buy them and the total will be much higher with shitty fine print like "Plus $324.30 in taxes including the US Semptember 11 $2.50 security fee" and "Plus $110.00 fuel surcharges because obviously a plane ticket doesn't include the cost of fuel."

You're never going to recoup your $60. Especially when the prices won't end up being cheap. It's not easy to find real bargains. Some tips to find cheap travel:

-- Sign up for as many major airlines' newsletters as you can think of. You'll have to skim a lot, but there are some gems buried in the lukewarm stuff.

-- If you can be a bit flexible, Priceline, Priceline, Priceline. I flew from Boston to Helsinki for $300 bucks round trip once. You may never get a fare accepted if you're not realistic, but you can get some awesome close-to-last minute deals if you can devote the attention to starting ridiculously low and working up to a reasonable-but-low price.

--I get the Sherman's Travel newsletter. There appear to be some really good deals there, but I haven't bought anything yet. This is good if you just want to travel but you're flexible as long as it's interesting.

-- If you want to go somewhere specific but need to know your departure time when you book or won't Priceline because you're afraid, I go to kayak.com first and sometimes to booking buddy. As well as the aforementioned Farecompare. Anything that does not state the total cost up front is not worth your time!

-- Check the discount airlines that fly from your area for domestic travel because they often don't show up in aggregators like Kayak. Specifically, check AirTran and, if you can stomach it, Southwest.

-- Travelocity has some sweet last-minute air and hotel packages. Again, you have to care more about going on a trip than going somewhere specific.

On the other hand
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:05 AM on April 11, 2006

There is no "on the other hand." I meant to delete that.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:05 AM on April 11, 2006

Best answer: I don't know about "scam" but I would certainly call BestFares too good to be true.

I signed up for it about three years ago. All the magically low priced fares that came up disappeared when I called the toll free number to get them—they were said to be "gone." Many of them seemed even lower because they included no taxes—this is a common trick for many airline ticket services (as I seen, on preview, that Mayor Curley has pointed out). The fares I was offered over the phone were worse than the same fares I could get from Travelocity, Expedia, or similar services.

In the end, I asked for a refund from BestFares and got it.

The best way to get cheap fares today is to search the airline web sites every day. None of the collators offer every airline, none offer most of the cheap fares available only on the carrier's web sites, and many of the collators use the same exact database, meaning you're wasting your time searching more than one (which is part of the problem with Booking Buddy). You can ease your search by finding which airlines are major carriers to your destination, then searching their sites.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:12 AM on April 11, 2006

Best answer: Another trick of BestFares and sites like it is to offer cheap fares as part of larger packages. So the fare is said to be $140, but you *have* to buy nights in a hotel or a car rental to get that fare, which means you might be locked into higher overall pricing.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:13 AM on April 11, 2006

I use ITA Software's Fare Shopping Engine which is what's used by a fair number of travel sites out there. Never found a fare cheaper, unless it was some error on the airline's part.
posted by antifuse at 7:30 AM on April 11, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks everybody, especiall Mo Nicks! Too good to be true indeed. I'm scouring the web now, but there is a good thread here about deals and sites not mentioned in this thread.
posted by zpousman at 7:58 AM on April 11, 2006

I know kayak.com is the popular one one MeFi but I've had better (cheaper) results with sidestep.com.
posted by junesix at 9:17 AM on April 11, 2006

I swear by SideStep.
posted by hsoltz at 9:51 AM on April 11, 2006

United, at least, regularly offers some fairly decent hotel and flight packages. A couple months ago I almost did a mileage run from MSP to LHR for $700 with a one-night hotel stay.
posted by nathan_teske at 10:20 AM on April 11, 2006

Best answer: I can't speak for anyone else's experiences, but I took a trip to Europe with my brother in 2003, and I signed up for a $60 membership specifically to buy tickets from bestfares.com. We got two round-trip tickets from LAX to London for $226 each ($351.35 after taxes & fees), exactly as advertised, and encountered no problems. Naturally, I cancelled my membership immediately after buying the tickets.
posted by designbot at 10:59 AM on April 11, 2006

Found this recently, have used it a couple of times so far with great results
posted by benjh at 12:45 PM on April 11, 2006

I had a membership for a year about 6 years ago and was able to get a family member a short notice round trip ticket from Boston to Mexico City for $400. I also bought another family member round trip tix from NH to a midwest city for $230, also on short notice. These were good deals in comparison with other listed prices, and there were no issues about the tickets being for someone in my family besides myself. I don't remember any unreasonable fees added on, just the normal tax.

I thought it was worth it, and might subscribe again if I planned to fly more than once in a year. I didn't realize they were still in business, and I don't know if they provide the same service that they did in 2000.
posted by sophie at 4:13 PM on April 11, 2006

Best answer: I have used best fares. I joined because it allowed me to get a relatively last minute ticket to Italy for about 1/2 of what I could find it anywhere else, including direct from airlines, travelocity, and the normal group of suspects.( In fact, the same ticket I bought was $600 bucks more if I had bought it straight from the airline) I was quite satisfied, and would join again, but probably only if I travelled more that I do currently. They automatically renewed my membership, probably something I agreed to without thinking, but they were quick and courteous to refund the fee when I asked them too.
posted by jcworth at 9:18 PM on April 11, 2006

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