It's an important element in setting airfares. When airlines think that you, the traveler, MUST go somewhere (ie if you book many months in advance) , they ratchet up prices. When not enough travelers have expressed a interest in a particular locale, prices drop.
|Flip the Virtual Coin & End Up in Istanbul|
Here's how it works. The user keys in a region (say Europe or the Caribbean) or a type of vacation (picks include: beach vacation, NY Times most interesting places for 2013, History and Culture) and dates. The site then shoots back prices for airfares.
In my search, for an April departure from New York City, I was given 10 options with Istanbul coming in the cheapest for airfare (at an impressive $580 round-trip) and Paris the most expensive (at $851). Moscow was an impressively low $605 round-trip, though since I know how high costs are on the ground there, I wouldn't take it as a budget traveler. My other options included: London, Athens, Berlin, Rome, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Milan.
Clicking to Istanbul, I got the itinerary but not the name of the carrier. I then made my second choice London, but in order to get these rates, I have to let the site choose for me where I'll be going.
Its a roll of the dice, but for travelers who just want to get away at the lowest price, this type of gambling may make sense. As with Priceline or Hotwire, I would have to pay before I find out which choice I get, so that's where I stopped.
According to ABCNews.com, the site will soon be offering this chancy travel option for hotels, as well.
I'll be keeping my eye on the site to see whether it catches on.