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Airlines will never give up the growing number of change and cancellation fees that boost their bottom line, but they might reconsider how the fees are divvied out if startup services gain enough traction and attention.
This week’s roundup of travel startups try to remedy what is seen by many travelers as a rigid booking system.
These additional services give flyers the opportunity to get around change fees and hotel guests the opportunity to snag a room at a packed hotel.
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Level Skies is travel booking site that allows travelers to hold the price of airfare for up to one month without an obligation to purchase a ticket. Users must purchase the fare with an additional fee (about 5 percent of total fare) for flexibility and price protection. The fare, minus the service fee, is refunded if the user decides they no longer want to take the trip.
The service is currently available on domestic and international routes from San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Boston.
SkiftTake: LevelSkies gives flyers the opportunities to save particularly low airfares for a small $20 fee, but users must be able to pay for the flight upfront for the additional benefits.
Airfordable offers flexible payment plans for air tickets. Users can make a down payment on a certain fare, make additional payments over a set period of time, and receive the tickets once the payments are complete.
SkiftTake: This is a service that appeals to a broad range of flyers, but the agreement requires the user to trust that Airfordable will indeed deliver the ticket once the payments are complete.
FlightSpeak is an app that gives flyers a simple platform for rating their flight experience. Users provide information on their trip, rate the flight based on a numerical scale, and then receive offers at their destination airport.
SkiftTake: Price plays a larger factor in flight choice than other parts of the travel experience making reviews less meaningful on a flight-by-flight basis, especially given the range of experiences among a single airline based on delays, staff, and plane type.
Hotel Room Alerts alerts travelers via email and text when a booked hotel room becomes available. The service will also alerts users when a room becomes available for a portion of the desired dates, or two or more rooms are available to guests willing to switch during their stay.
SkiftTake: The service will become particularly helpful during large events like global sporting events or conventions where available rooms quickly become scarce. Setting a price filter is a logical second step to growing the service’s user base.
Special Globe is an information resource and online community for families with special needs children. Parents can ask questions in forums, find out which brands cater to special needs travelers, and book travel via Expedia.
SkiftTake: Special Globe is the Lonely Planet for a specific travel group and one of several specialized services that connect and inform travelers. Timely information and brand awareness are a must for this group.