Travel Planning Tools
The sites I use most frequently are Travelocity (www.travelocity.com ) and Orbitz (www.orbitz.com), followed by Expedia (www.expedia.com).
I have dealt with Travelocity for several years and booked both international and domestic trips through them. All of the services allow you to enter the destination and departure city, the departure and return dates, and an approximate time of departure (e.g. "early morning"). They then present an array of flight options, usually sorted by air fare, lowest to highest. When you make your selection, you pay by credit card and receive either an e-ticket by email or a paper ticket by courier.
When you use one of these services, you need to be aware that there are a range of fares available and that not all of them are available on a given day. Airlines usually offer a number of different prices for the same flight on the same day. The bargain seats usually sell out first. Departing a day or two earlier or later, or even in the morning rather than afternoon can make a big difference in the fares available. Shopping for air fares deserves an article of its own.
Copyright 2001 Harry B. Rowe