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Sometime between October 2004 and now, the booking fee went up $0.99, to a total of $6.99 that is added on to airline reservations booked through the travel website.

Still, my best technique for finding fares on airlines that I fly regularly is using the Deal Detector feature on the Orbitz website. I enter my departure and arrival dates, select 1 day before and after for both, and see a grid of 9 itinerary dates with the lowest fare for each (Note: Orbitz does not display fares for some discount carriers, e.g. Southwest: fares are displayed for airlines including American, America West, Continental, Delta, Frontier, Northwest, United, and US Airways).

Once you find the itinerary, airline, and price you want, wait! Go to that airline's website, enter the same itinerary information, and you typically (but not guaranteed) will get the same price as shown on Orbitz, but you won't have to pay the $6.99 service fee. Plus many airlines add on frequent flyer miles to your account for booking directly on their website, something you won't receive from Orbitz.

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