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Old Nov 9, 14, 12:35 am   #1
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Is Delta.com best site for ALL Delta fares/flights?

It seems obvious that Delta.com, with their "Best Fare Guarantee", would be the best website to price out all potential itineraries on Delta for travel planning.

However, sometimes, what is "obvious" isn't always the most informed.

In my efforts to cram the 15 years of Flyertalk archives into some actionable information that I can use over the next 15 days of booking flights for 2015, I have run across some resources I had never heard of before (and not even clear how to use) such as

1. ITA Matrix
2. SkyScanner
3. Google/flights
4. Orbitz
5. Hipmunk
6. kayak
7. wideroe.no (Norwegian)
8. Seat24.se (Swedish)



I'm sure their are other similar website tools and resources that I don't even know about.

Years ago, I thought Kayak was the best. I don't think so today. It seems like Kayak and Delta.com represent the front entrance to the airfare store, designed (and perhaps edited) for consumers who don't want to take too much time really digging deep for optimal fare savings, but who want to at least have the shopping experience of choice, where they can realize some savings.

From the gist of what I've been able to ascertain from posts on Flyertalk, you guys dig much deeper. You enter the airfare store through the back door, the windows, the skylights, and even through the basement underneath. You are way more dialed in, exceeding professional travel agent levels of flight and sale information. I'm willing to get my hands dirty too, to find the fares that reduce my travel costs, because as a sole proprietor, I'm not spending corporate money to go to work. I'm spending my own.

Since I'm devoting the next 12 months of air travel exclusively to Delta, I just want to focus on finding the best way to discover and book Delta's most favorable fares. Before assuming it is delta.com, I thought I'd put the question to the experts here.

Thanks in advance!

Last edited by Flyertall; Nov 10, 14 at 7:35 am Reason: To add/alter options to the list, as posters contribute responses
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Old Nov 9, 14, 12:59 am   #2
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For domestic flights, Orbitz will offer broken fares with 4+ hour layovers if they are cheaper (through fares don't allow 4+ hours layovers domestically (usually), but there is nothing wrong with them on a broken fare). Most other sites such as Kayak will filter these options out from my recent experience. delta.com does actually display some broken fare options these days, but it appears to be only those options which involve going through a hub. Orbitz will also combine DL with AF/KL flight numbers for international tickets if they are cheaper. delta.com will generally only offer the code-shared AF/KL flight options which can be more expensive. Matrix can be good, but also from a recent experience I needed to use the DL+ option to get some cheaper options on DL that were not initially displayed. I use Google Flights frequently to get a good idea of when flights are cheapest (mostly for mileage runs). It's not always definitive for cheapest options, but I find that it's the fastest option out there for searching. I should note that neither Matrix nor Google Flights are actually booking sites, while Orbitz is. Also note that BFG has lots of exclusions (such as alternate routings which you get on a broken fare), so it's pretty much meaningless.

Last edited by LBJ; Nov 9, 14 at 1:28 am
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Old Nov 9, 14, 5:18 am   #3
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I use chase ultimate rewards portal myself for the extra miles but normally same results pop up if not cheaper some times with 3rd party websites
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Old Nov 9, 14, 7:34 am   #4
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Delta is the best site to book travel, but a poor choice for searching and pricing flights. Use ITA, Google Flights, Kayak, etc. to find your flights and price them. Then go to Delta to book. If the Delta website doesn't offer you the options you want or the prices you found elsewhere, try a multi-city search and piece it together segment by segment, or call in.
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Old Nov 9, 14, 8:14 am   #5
  
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Originally Posted by javabytes View Post
Delta is the best site to book travel, but a poor choice for searching and pricing flights. Use ITA, Google Flights, Kayak, etc. to find your flights and price them. Then go to Delta to book. If the Delta website doesn't offer you the options you want or the prices you found elsewhere, try a multi-city search and piece it together segment by segment, or call in.
Very sound advice. Delta limits flights displayed, sometimes to only a few options when dozens of options exist. I usually search multiple websites and then try to book exactly what I want on Delta. Sometimes I can't ever book the same ticket on Delta, or when I try, it's in a higher fare class, so I will then use an OTA.

I think Delta realizes that when people go to their website to book a ticket, they are a captive audience, and they will take advantage of that to at least a small extent.
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Old Nov 9, 14, 8:18 am   #6
  
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i tend to use ITA matrix, Google flights first to get a general idea about the cost of the ticket and the (in)convenience factor. I always check other OTA sites before using Delta's. Delta will display its own flights/ code share mainly, after all it is Delta's website. For international travel or even long haul travel within NA, I find other sites to display diffrent/cheaper and sometimes more convenient flights, this is especially the case if you are flying to an area covered by a partner. A recent example is travel to Pisa italy, where I saved about $ 300 by booking a separate ticket on AF from Paris to Pisa, this is also in my experience true if you are looking for a last minute ticket, or even within 3 weeks of flying. If I am going to fly delta, And I decided on a ticket then I try to book it on delta, or by calling delta, if all fails, then I go to Back to the OTA. Which is the best OTA. ? In my experience it is variable, I had good luck with Expedia, orbitz, cheapoair, Expedia.fr, on few occasions but not other occasions, I think it is a hit and miss on which OTA Is best.
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Old Nov 9, 14, 11:32 am   #7
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Originally Posted by FlytheTail View Post
Delta limits flights displayed, sometimes to only a few options when dozens of options exist. I usually search multiple websites and then try to book exactly what I want on Delta. Sometimes I can't ever book the same ticket on Delta, or when I try, it's in a higher fare class, so I will then use an OTA.

I think Delta realizes that when people go to their website to book a ticket, they are a captive audience, and they will take advantage of that to at least a small extent.

What FlytheTail said above is EXACTLY what I have been suspecting over my last decade with Delta. And here are a few more issues I have with using Delta's website:

1. Getting timed out, when I'm comparing different flight plans. These session time outs are extremely irksome.

2. Delta prevents you from searching flexible airport AND flexible times. You can only search one way, or the other.

3. Delta has vastly different fare prices for the same seat at the same fare class on the same plane leaving the same time on the same day... depending on whether or not you are stopping at the hub, or passing through the hub. The CVG hub has stood out to me as a prime example of this. The rental car companies at CMH have received a lot of business from me as a result.

Here's a hypothetical example... I'm going to just make this up, because it's been a few years since I've done this, so these routings may not be accurate, but they are merely intended to be illustrative for purposes of making this point: On a made up SFO-CVG, the flight might be $600, whereas the same seat on a SFO-CVG-MCO itinerary, the SFO-CVG leg might be only $300.

But that isn't what really concerns me. What REALY concerns me about Delta.com is cookies...

4. Delta appears to raise the price of fares during the selection process, if the same computer is used for the entire session while shopping on Delta.com. This happens even when I've timed out, and have to start the selection process over again. Delta's servers seem to "remember" or seem to use my own computer's memory against me, to raise the prices of flights that I am interested in, even whilst I'm in the process of booking them.

It is infuriating to go back and forth, reentering cities, dates, times, and selections, and finally arrive at the booking page, only to be told "ERROR", those fares are no longer available... they've increased by $100.

When I began analyzing these occurrences 7 or 8 years ago, I first started by recording my current dynamic IP address, unplugging the AC power to the modem from the wall, and waiting five or 10 minutes. During this time I would completely wipe my browser's history, cookies, downloads, and temporary internet files, and fully close and reopen the browser two times to wipe those persistent cookies that are stored elsewhere (especially with Safari) and reload when the browser opens. Then I'd plug the modem back into the wall, and once powered up, I'd verify that my IP address was now reassigned to a different number. By that time, it was, so I'd go back to Delta.com, reenter the flight info of the final selection I wanted to book, and LO AND BEHOLD, the ORIGINAL LOWER PRICE WAS BACK AND AVAILABLE AGAIN!

So that seat didn't get "sold" after all. Delta raised the price dynamically, while its' hook was in my gills for the session that I was online for. There is an article about this in this month's AARP magazine, if interested.

A few years later, I noticed that a full reset of my IP address was not enough... and around the same time I ran across an article on how certain websites track and log computer MAC addresses (a MAC address has nothing to do with Apple Macintoshes. Windows PC's also have MAC addresses). With this type of tracking, even a dynamically changing IP address was not enough to prevent machine identification over a network.

So I began to resort to using two computers... one machine to shop, and then another machine to go in for the kill on the initial fare that Delta presents to new shoppers. Fighting fire with fire, so to speak.

Having recently joined Flyertalk, I thought it high time to learn more efficient ways to FiND flights and fares on Delta. I'll still book them on Delta.com, but I want to know what I'm booking before I go in, and set the dates, times, and destinations to encourage Deltas computers to present the flights I discovered using other resources.

Last edited by Flyertall; Nov 9, 14 at 11:39 am
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Old Nov 9, 14, 1:01 pm   #8
  
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Originally Posted by Flyertall View Post
A few years later, I noticed that a full reset of my IP address was not enough... and around the same time I ran across an article on how certain websites track and log computer MAC addresses (a MAC address has nothing to do with Apple Macintoshes. Windows PC's also have MAC addresses). With this type of tracking, even a dynamically changing IP address was not enough to prevent machine identification over a network.
This isn't possible. MAC Addresses aren't visible beyond the local subnet.
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Old Nov 9, 14, 1:30 pm   #9
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This isn't possible. MAC Addresses aren't visible beyond the local subnet.

Thanks for that. I cannot be relied upon to accurately convey any technical aspects of HOW websites are managing to track the hardware people use online... I can only convey what I've noticed on Delta's website. When I use two different machines... one to search, and a separate machine to book... the fares on the machine I've used to search for the flights will tick up, and the fares on the machine I've used to quickly book the flights do not change.

I read some article about MAC addresses, and thought that could be related to this ability to be tracked, regardless of IP address, but will freely admit I know nothing of the HOW, only the end result that I have observed, for whatever reason that it occurs.

The main point of this thread is to learn more efficient ways to get a handle on ALL the available flights that Delta has to offer, with flexible airports and flexible days, for flyers who are not spending other peoples money, but are spending their own, and have to work hard at controlling costs.

I'm very appreciative of any help in identifying other websites and search tools to use to find all Delta flights.
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Old Nov 9, 14, 1:42 pm   #10
  
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To get the best price, I'd recommend this:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trave...serscript.html

In general, Delta's website really seems to test the adage of "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

Because there is plenty of stuff that seems to be adequately explained by only one or the other.
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Old Nov 9, 14, 2:42 pm   #11
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Originally Posted by Flyertall View Post
I'm very appreciative of any help in identifying other websites and search tools to use to find all Delta flights.
The strengths of ITA Matrix make me wonder why anybody would ever start with any airline web site:
  • Flexible date
  • Variable duration of stay
  • non-stop, connecting, or forced segment count via Advanced Routing Codes
  • force connecting city
  • force carrier(s)
  • force a fare class

Delta.com will, in about 99 times out of a hundred for me, price it as Matrix does on the same flights.

FlyerTalkers complain about in-process fare changes on AA, too. I suspect that many (prospective, as people and bots pound) fare searches across limited inventories against complex fare and routing rules leading to non-immediate purchase transactions will inherently lead to unstable results. They don't run the NYSE this way.
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Old Nov 9, 14, 2:54 pm   #12
  
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Originally Posted by javabytes View Post
Delta is the best site to book travel, but a poor choice for searching and pricing flights. Use ITA, Google Flights, Kayak, etc. to find your flights and price them. Then go to Delta to book. If the Delta website doesn't offer you the options you want or the prices you found elsewhere, try a multi-city search and piece it together segment by segment, or call in.
I would add to this that sometimes I've been unable to replicate my desired flights on delta.com, so I've used Google Flights which (usually) will generate a link to book on the airline website. That should pull up the exact flights. Additionally, Hipmunk can be used to select flights and then redirect to delta.com. Hipmunk is a little clunkier than Google Flights IMHO, but it has the added advantage of accepting ITA Matrix syntax because, I if understand correctly, it uses the ITA matrix back-end.
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Old Nov 9, 14, 3:04 pm   #13
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Originally Posted by 3Cforme View Post
The strengths of ITA Matrix make me wonder why anybody would ever start with any airline web site:
  • Flexible date
  • Variable duration of stay
  • non-stop, connecting, or forced segment count via Advanced Routing Codes
  • force connecting city
  • force carrier(s)
  • force a fare class

The reason why I started with the airline's website was purely from the most rudimentary logic inherent in the lowest common denominator of intelligence... basically, not knowing any better, Delta's website seemed like the obvious choice to look for Delta flights. I was not aware of better choices.

That's why I joined Flyertalk. To "know better."

The ITA Matrix sounds like a fantastic tool, that I had never heard of prior to joining FT. Does anyone know of a good hand holding tutorial I can read to learn how to make use of all the features of ITA (the coded search SYNTAX in particular) that are enumerated in the list above?

Last edited by Flyertall; Nov 9, 14 at 3:09 pm
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Old Nov 9, 14, 3:23 pm   #14
  
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Originally Posted by Flyertall View Post
The reason why I started with the airline's website was purely from the most rudimentary logic inherent in the lowest common denominator of intelligence... basically, not knowing any better, Delta's website seemed like the obvious choice to look for Delta flights. I was not aware of better choices.

That's why I joined Flyertalk. To "know better."

The ITA Matrix sounds like a fantastic tool, that I had never heard of prior to joining FT. Does anyone know of a good hand holding tutorial I can read to learn how to make use of all the features of ITA (the coded search SYNTAX in particular) that are enumerated in the list above?
I'm sure there are tutorials out there that you could find by Googling, but their own FAQs should give you a pretty good guide to cover most searches that a newbie would be making.

https://support.google.com/faqs/faq/1739451?rd=2
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Old Nov 9, 14, 5:29 pm   #15
  
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Originally Posted by Flyertall View Post
The ITA Matrix sounds like a fantastic tool, that I had never heard of prior to joining FT. Does anyone know of a good hand holding tutorial I can read to learn how to make use of all the features of ITA (the coded search SYNTAX in particular) that are enumerated in the list above?

This might help you:

http://travelcodex.com/2012/01/intro...-to-using-ita/
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