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Corporate Aug 4, 2012

Do travel portals give you the best fares? Don’t bet on it

By Bindisha Sarang

Buying airline tickets is a breeze these days. You log on to a travel portal like Makekytrip.com, or Cleartrip.com or Yatra.com, put in your dates and destinations, and you get an array of options in terms of time of travel, airline preference, and fares. You can choose between cheap and convenient, or both.

Easy, right?

Well, not quite. Firstpost did a casual check of airline fares on Friday afternoon (3 August) at the big portals and the websites run by the airlines themselves. Our discovery: the best bargains may not be available at the all-encompassing travel portals. You get a buffet, but you don't always get it at the best price.

Here's what we did, and what we found out.

Reuters

Reuters

We did some quick online searches across four travel portals: Makemytrip.com, Travelguru.com, Cleartrip.com and Yatra.com. And, we simultaneously looked at the websites of three airlines: Jet Airways, Kingfisher and Indigo.

Then we choose three destinations: Mumbai to Delhi, Kolkata to Mumbai and Kolkata to Mumbai and compared the ticket price for the same flight for each destination across these four portals and against the respective airline website. We checked all these sites within a few minutes of the initial search so that the fares would not have changed significantly.

Contrary to popular belief, what we found was a bit unexpected. For instance, for the Mumbai-Delhi Jet Airways flight (9W 333), the ticket price at Makemytrip was Rs 9,412. With Yatra it was Rs 9,512, and for Cleartrip Rs 9,287. At Travelguru you would have had to shell out just Rs 9,192 - the same as the price at Jet Airways site. On this sector and on this flight and on this day, only Travelguru seemed to match Jet's own price.

Another example was the Bangalore-Delhi flight for Kingfisher (IT 214). While the Kingfisher website quoted a price of Rs 8,429, Travelguru was pricier at Rs 8,633. With Cleartrip and Makemytrip the fares were Rs 8,534, while Yatra's stood at Rs 8,634. Again the airline website offered the best rate.

The third flight we checked was IndiGo's Kolkata-Mumbai (6E324). Two portals, Cleartrip and Makemytrip, had a ticket price that was the same as that offered by the IndiGo website: Rs 8,104. The other two portals were more expensive by Rs 100. Not a great saving, but enough to buy you an Udipi lunch.

Clearly, travel portals are useful since they give you a choice of airlines, their different timings and a variety of price points.

But once you have decided on the airline and price, it might be a good idea to check both comparable travel portals and the airline's own websites.

You might save a few shekels in the process.

Disclosure: The Network18 group has a small investment stake in Yatra.com.

by Bindisha Sarang

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