KDnuggets : News : 2007 : n07 : item29 < PREVIOUS | NEXT >


Mining for Cheap Flights

Farecast claims to offer cheap tickets based on science, not marketing.

March 28, 2007. On a flight to his brother's wedding in 2001, Oren Etzioni discovered that the people sitting next to him had bought their tickets later than he did, yet had paid less. For some, this could have been an infuriating revelation, but Etzioni didn't get mad; as a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington, in Seattle, he got inspired. "I thought, 'Why don't I collect historical data [on airfares] and use that to anticipate ticket prices?'"

In 2003, Etzioni and colleagues published a paper showing that they could predict the fluctuation in airline-ticket prices surprisingly well. By sifting through the history of more than 12,000 airfares for nonstop flights from Seattle to Washington, D.C., and from Los Angeles to Boston, the researchers could predict with 62 percent accuracy whether or not those ticket prices would rise or fall in the future. That same year, using the principles behind that research, Etzioni founded Farecast, a website--available to the public in 2006--that advises a visitor whether to buy a given ticket immediately or wait to get a better deal. Earlier this month, the company added a new feature to the site that unearths deals for weekend escapes, family getaways, last-minute excursions, and other types of trips.

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KDnuggets : News : 2007 : n07 : item29 < PREVIOUS | NEXT >

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