You board your flight to Chicago, $600 ticket in hand, and do a quick survey of the people sitting around you. Turns out 13D paid only $300 for her flight, while 14E shelled out nearly $1,000 for his. It's a reality of air travel that infuriates passengers, but now several new travel websites are promising to demystify the seemingly nonsensical world of airline ticket pricing.

It was exasperation with existing online travel tools that led Robert Metcalf to develop flyspy, a site currently in alpha mode using fare data from Northwest Airlines.

"I once spent six hours combing through different websites," says Metcalf, who wanted to see how prices changed if he flew into a different airport or adjusted his travel dates and length of stay. "I ended up compiling all the data I gathered into an Excel spreadsheet, and started wondering why there wasn't a site that provides this kind of functionality."

Flyspy asks passengers for their departure and arrival cities, and then presents 30 days' worth of fare information in a stock-market style graph. Clicking a data point on the graph takes users directly to Northwest's website for booking.

The easy-to-read flyspy chart is key to its appeal: Passengers can comparison shop based on length of stay ("Will the price change if I stay two extra days?"), or different city pairs ("Is it cheaper to fly into Baltimore or Dulles?").

Flyspy also offers cool extras: Travelers looking to boost their frequent flyer balance can generate a list of flights offering the lowest cost per mile -- a few of them to cities you might actually want to visit.

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