A growing arsenal of "aggregator" Web sites perform as the K-9 Corps of online air travel. These sites simultaneously search multiple travel provider sites to sniff out the lowest fares available for a particular itinerary, time frame and class of service. Some even allow you to target your search to airline, total travel time, number of stops, routing and other parameters.

The most useful of these aggregator sites will save you hours of research by providing within seconds the best fares for your destination that can be found on the Internet.

Although the majority of these search engines don't sell tickets directly, instead collecting fees for referrals to travel providers, there could be issues of bias and market saturation. Some sites have airline sponsors whose flights tend to be listed ahead of others, whether or not the fares are the lowest. And because each aggregator searches a specific number and kind of travel provider sites, the fare results will typically vary from one aggregator to another. You will have to check out two or three of these search engines to ensure that you're presented with all the applicable fares available.

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