I admit it, I’m the most tenacious hound for cheap airfares there is.

I made some travel plans this past year to visit a relative in Maui over the Holidays. I started tracking the airfares as soon as they were published, early in the calendar year.

In the past I’ve used Travelocity FareWatcher and the (now defunct) MyYahoo widget.   Travelocity’s fare watch tool is only effective for tracking bargain fares between  a City Pair- But it does not let you choose your schedule in advance.  I’ve been unimpressed with either of them (Travelocity, Yahoo, + others), so decided to try out the new Yapta, which appeared to have some very solid tracking features and built-in alerts.

I went all-in. I signed up for a Yapta account, started tracking fares, even installed the app on my smartphone so I could get much-anticipated ‘alerts’. I signed up for some ‘test’ alerts on prices between LAX and Maui, alerting me if the fare changed (in any direction) by $25 or more. I received a few alerts and then shut the search off, confident I had ‘Chuck Yeagerd’ the Yapta system and was ready to use Yapta in anger.

Some Positive Comments about Yapta:

  • Yapta lets you track airfares BY ACTUAL FLIGHT NUMBER AND DATE. Very few other travel sites offer this feature, which comes in very handy after you purchase a flight.
  • Yapta says it will alert you if you purchase a flight and later flight price drops (which makes you eligible for airfare refunds at different $$ thresholds, depending on the airline). I my case, I entered the price I paid and sat by waiting for the magic to happen.
  • Yapta does not SPAM you too much. I had ‘alerts’ dialed in, but since none of them were triggered, I just looked at the weekly summary emails Yapta sent me.
  • As I was waiting for prices to drop, Yapta DID send me an indication that there was a price drop on my desired itinerary, but it was not an ‘Alert’, special email, or text message- I caught it in one of the weekly Yapta Summary emails.

Negative Comments about Yapta:

  • Once I started tracking airfares for real, I never received any true ‘Alerts’ about the flights I was interested in, even though I confirmed my settings for email on the website and phone alerts on my smartphone (yes, they are the same account/user ID).
  • Yapta tracking seems to ‘hiccup’ whenever there is a change in flight schedule (Not flight NUMBER). In more than one instance Yapta told me to go back to the webpage and re-enter my flight data. In one specific instance Yapta forgot the data about the flight I HAD ALREADY TOLD YAPTA THAT I HAD PURCHASED. This was due to a schedule change of about 10 minutes on the departing flight (again, no change in flight number or routing took place).
  • When Yapta ‘hiccups’ like this, it loses all the historical bar graph data for the flight number you have been tracking. Time to start over with fresh data- You’ve lost all the ‘peaks and valleys’ you had on your bar chart.

Bottom Line: Yapta has a lot of potential, and I continue to use YAPTA for ‘entertainment purposes’ airfare tracking. But if I really wanted to watch fares like a hawk for myself or on behalf of my company, I would have to choose between the options of :

  • Tracking it myself once per day
  • Hiring a Virtual Assistant
  • Letting a trusted Travel Agent do it for me
  • Hiring a computer programmer to write a ‘screen scrape’ program to do this for me and kick me automatic alerts.

…Too Bad there’s not an ‘AutoSlash’ that does for Airfares what AutoSlash does for Rental Cars 🙁

Here’s a graphical depiction of my user experience, from January to October:

January – Holiday Flight Scheudule Opens. I use Yapta to track airfares between LAX and Maui, SAN and Maui:

Yapta website review

April – Some of the flight data I entered is beginning to disappear:Yapta website review

May – I purchased tickets and entered my flight data for tickets purchased (last line of the graphic):

Yapta website review

 

September – By now, Yapta has forgotten all of my searches, and has lost the data for the ticketed flight I had typed in (last line) !

Yapta website review
October 7th – Weekly email indicates no price drop on my purchased trip (last line). However, Based on a MarketWatch article I checked the airfare on my own- IT HAD DROPPED, with NO NOTIFICATION OR ALERT SENT TO ME:

Yapta website review

 

Fyi, the ‘Low-water mark’ for my airfare in my case occurred on October 8th, as predicted (and prompted) by a MarketWatch article  (BTW, Clark Howard’s thumbrule to purchase airfare 45-60 days out holds pretty true).

UPDATE 10/10/2014 – As if on cue, after posting this, Yapta did, in fact, FINALLY send me a Price Drop Alert email, notifying me my airfare had dropped and that I was eligible for a refund.  Note that this alert would not have functioned had I not RE-ENTERED my purchased flight info back in September:

 

Yapta_2014_10_10

 

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