RealTime IT News

cFares Lets Fly With Redesigned Travel Site

Redwood Shores, Calif. – Online travel site cFares debuted a redesigned interface this week, a move the company said will better expose the savings it offers consumers.

Along with the usual listing of airfares and travel times, cFares features a visual dashboard that charts the tradeoffs available, based on price and departure time, of similar flights. Simple drop down menus show you additional details for each flight so, unlike other sites, you don't have to advance to another page to see them.

cFares makes the bold claim that it consistently delivers the lowest-priced airfares not available anywhere else online. In limited testing by internetnews.com, cFares offered results that were often priced less than those found at the equivalent airline sites.

There are a couple of reasons for this, starting with cFares' business model. The best deals on cFares are available to paid members ($50 per year), though the free portion of the site also offers savings.

"Our platform brings to market fares you won't see anywhere else," Vajid Jafri, cFares founder and CEO, told internetnews.com in a briefing here at company headquarters. Started in 2005, Jafri said cFares had 100,000 users before this week's launch of the new interface.

Just as Costco attracts customers with low pricing and profits on membership fees, cFares hopes to do likewise. Once you've entered your travel request (dates, times and destination) at the site, you get two sets of results: "Platinum" and "Gold."

Only cFares members ($50 per year) can book the Platinum fares which include an automatic rebate savings. The rebate is typically below the standard fare you'd pay for the same flight at that airline's Web site.

Members and non-members alike can book Gold fares. Both Gold and Platinum results are shown in full before you buy, including flight times, airline and price.

Jafri said cFares has established a unique relationship with the multi-billion-dollar consolidator industry. These are companies that buy up hundreds of of millions of dollars worth of airline inventory each year that are eventually made available to consumers and business through various third party travel entities.

But cFares said it has negotiated direct access to this consolidator inventory and, even after its own markup, can offer better deals than other travel sites.

The steepest savings are typically in the Platinum section of results, but testing showed Gold results were sometimes competitive as well. For example, cFares offered a choice of six different San Francisco to Boston flights (four priced at $333) on American Airlines (leaving September 6, returning September 13).

Some of the cFares flights weren't even available on the American Airlines site, and of the ones that were, the lowest price was $389.20. Online travel site Expedia offered more flights than cFares on American, but its lowest priced ticket was $383.

It should also be noted that cFares doesn't book any tickets directly with customers. For example, the American Airlines fares mentioned above come via 1800Cheapseats, one of the many companies hooked to the cFares system.

But the transactions, including any rebates, are all done automatically, according to cFares, with the online tickets distributed directly to the customer at time of purchase.