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
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
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
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.
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.