Seattle-based Farecast, now in private beta, is an airfare pricing comparision tool that also uses a predictive algorithm to recommend when you buy your ticket. So the idea is to show the user not just who has the cheapest ticket, but whether or not waiting might make sense as well. Look for Minneapolis-based Flyspy to launch a similar service in the near future.
The site is well designed and the interface clearly communicates pricing and predictive information. At this point in the beta you must choose Seattle or Boston as the departure city, so I looked at Seattle – Los Angeles flights. The cheapest option was $329 (on American Airlines), and Farecast tells me with 80% certainty that the lowest fares will rise by $50 over the next seven days.
Ok, great. But Southwest, which has flights for $308 round trip, isn’t included in the price comparison. And that’s the real problem here. Farecast is a nice solution that distills useful information from complete pricing chaos by the airlines. But Southwest doesn’t play those games, and doesn’t open their service up to comparison engines like Farecast. So the lowest and most understandable prices are excluded from the service.
While I like Farecast, and will use it to see if I can get a flight for less than Southwest charges, what I’d really like to see is our airlines pull their collective head out of their collective ass and adopt a pricing model that makes sense. One, for instance, that doesn’t require a proprietary algorithm like Farecast’s to understand.