Grab It and Go
You can call it an aggregator or use the new buzz word "metasearch" for sites that pull up information from numerous other sites. No matter what it's called, CoGo likes PriceGrabber.com.
The site has been helping online shoppers search for deals on consumer goods for seven years, and this month it added airplane tickets and hotels to its repertoire. Not only is the travel portion of the site comprehensive and easy to navigate, but it has some nifty bells and whistles. CoGo's favorite: Every flight option shown comes with a little clock. If the clock is red, you know that flight is chronically late. Yellow, not too bad. Green, the best. Click on the clock and you'll find detailed information about the flight's on-time record. That info also is available by searching at www.flightstats.com. But by teaming with Flightstats, PriceGrabber makes the info handy.
When asked to find flight options, PriceGrabber searches the sites of 40 airlines, plus a number of other travel providers, including Orbitz and 1-800-Cheapseats. (The search includes all of the legacy carriers, plus JetBlue, Spirit and other discounters, but not Southwest.)
PriceGrabber's find of $282 round trip from D.C. to Cancun wasn't a secret -- all of the Web sites CoGo checked knew about the Continental sale on one-stop flights. But easy access to on-time records was helpful, especially since the trip CoGo liked had a tight connection. By clicking the clock, CoGo found that the originating flight was on time 88 percent of the time, and when delayed, was late an average of 13 minutes. Close enough for a gambler.
THE POLITICS OF TRAVEL
Your travel dollars can either be spent in ways that harm the world or help fix it. That's the underlying philosophy of the Ethical Traveler, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Berkeley, Calif. The groups advises travelers on how to make responsible travel decisions, and in its latest report, recommends 13 developing countries that are both worth visiting and deserving of your tourist dollars.
Using publically available data, Ethical Traveler compared the environmental and social development indicators of various countries to make their ratings. They studied things like carbon dioxide emissions, percentage of land set aside for parks, infant mortality rates and human rights records.
And the winners are: Argentina, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ecuador, Kenya, Peru, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Uruguay.
If countries trying to do well by their people are rewarded with tourism, they will more likely continue on that path, said Ethical Traveler spokesman Michael Mccoll. His ultimate hope: "Other countries may see the economic benefit to doing the environmentally and socially responsible thing."
Good news could be coming for passengers holding tickets on financially troubled airlines. Congress has voted to reinstate a law requiring carriers to provide seats, if they're available, at a nominal fee to passengers holding tickets on an airline that ceases operation. The provision, which had not been signed by the president as of press time, would add a measure of protection to consumers through Nov. 30, 2006 . . . Visitors to Mexico will be able to get tax refunds on purchases worth at least 1,200 pesos (about $110) under a new law that goes into effect July 1.
BARGAIN OF THE WEEK
Fly from Dulles to Boston for $70 round trip, including taxes. Details: What's the Deal?, Page P3.
Reporting: Cindy Loose
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