Frequent flyer or weekend escape artist, these sites ought to be saved as a few of your favorites.
Just like popular third-party sites like www.travelocity.com, www.expedia.com and www.hotwire.com, the sites below let you search flights, book flights and compare the cost of airfare among several carriers.
But these sites go the extra mile. From the Wall St. Journal to Kiplingers.com to Forbes magazine, these are the sites that get critics' attention.
But just to make sure, I had Cheryl Keating, travel expert with AAA Auto Club South in East Memphis (http://www.aaasouth.com/) review each one:
* www.seatguru.com. When you shop flights on seatguru.com, not only can you compare fares, but you can also check color-coded maps for each seat assignment. Click or move your cursor over them, and you'll get a review of the seat assignment: good, bad, quick jump to the lavatory, whatever. Travelers can post their own reviews of service and comfort on not just a specific AIRLINE, but also a specific FLIGHT. On every plane page, there's an in-flight amenity icon that details what "extras" are on that flight, from movies to infant assistance.
KEATING'S REVIEW: "The site seems a bit cumbersome. The seat information is informative, but flyers need to understand that the airlines will hold out the seats with the most leg room for their elite frequent flyers and handicapped flyers. Many airlines are charging a premium seat charge for many of the 'good seats' and very often those seats cannot be booked until 24-48 hours prior to your departure."
* www.tripadvisor.com. This is seatguru.com's parent site. It has a fee-estimator that will detail any fees for baggage, meals, headsets, anything.
KEATING'S REVIEW: "Trip Advisor's hotel review site seems very popular. But again that information must be evaluated. You don't know who is writing that review or why. Sadly enough some reviews have been written by the hotel being reviewed, or their competitors. I advise people that use trip advisor to read between the lines. Ignore the best review and the worst review and focus on the reviews in the middle. Also, look where they reviewer lives, expectations regarding accommodations, cleanliness, food and service, vary depending on what country you are from. Still the best information comes from travel professionals or your family and friends who know you and your likes and dislikes."
* www.flyingfees.com. The Wall Street Journal loves this one because it tracks the fees of 29 airlines. It will even list the least expensive airline in specific categories.
KEATING'S REVIEW: "The flying public is confused at this time regarding the luggage fees and rules. All the information on the site is available on the individual airlines web site. I played around with this site and the airline baggage information I pulled seemed accurate. I was having a hard time getting prices on flights but using it for baggage information is fine. I feel that I would still check with the airline and make sure that the information is current."