Want a Great Hotel Deal? Ask Your Airline

jurvetson, flickr

You may have noticed when you logged on to book a plane ticket that your airline also let you book a hotel room right on their site. But is this one-stop-shopping such a good idea? A lot of travelers seem to think so.

According to a new study, about 38-percent of surveyed fliers book their hotels through an airline website. We decided to take a look to see if that tactic can actually get you a cheap hotel room. To our surprise, the skies are friendlier than we thought. Of the five trips we researched, four had the airline's price coming in as the lowest, with savings ranging from less than dollar to almost $700. The prices below are subject to change, of course, since hotel rates fluctuate constantly. Just like plane fares.


The trip: A three-day Broadway weekend at The Muse Hotel in New York City

Booked through Delta: $1,056.33
Booked through the hotel: $1,184.49
Booked through Expedia: $1,375.71
Best Bet: Delta

The findings: For (relative) bargain hunting in the Big Apple, we found that Delta's website was the best place to book. When we shopped, the rate through Delta was a $128.16 savings for the Times Square-area hotel when compared to booking directly through the hotel itself. That's enough to buy discount tickets for two to a Sunday matinee. Expedia costs $319.38 more than the prices quoted on Delta's site -- essentially enough savings to add that fourth day to your three-day weekend.

Continental Airlines

The trip: A five-day Disneyland vacation at the Best Western Meridian Inn & Suites in Anaheim

Booked through Continental: $374.65
Booked through the hotel: $395.00
Booked through Expedia: $411.25
Best Bet: Continental

The findings: Not only did Continental's website save us $20 over booking directly through the hotel, there's also a 250 mile reward for using the airline's site. Plus, the Best Western's rate requires all your money paid up-front with no possibility of cancellation. The "Expedia Special Rate" seems anything but special in comparison; it was an extra $35.


The trip: A two-night jazz and blues weekend at the Queen & Crescent Hotel in New Orleans

Booked through JetBlue: $335.15
Booked through Queen & Crescent: $305.07
Booked through Expedia: $326.80
Best Bet: The hotel itself

The findings: The best deal in New Orleans requires going straight to the hotel's site (the site does not specify taxes up front, but read the fine print). Direct booking meant a $30 savings compared to booking through the airline. Powered by hotels.com, JetBlue's search engine is even pricier than Expedia.

American Airlines

The Trip: A New Year's Eve golf getaway weekend at the Marriott Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami

Booked through American: $461.04
Booked through the hotel: $461.45
Booked through Expedia: $542.95
Best Best: American (by a hair)

The Findings: If you want to play 18 holes on the Blue Monster PGA course in the Florida sun over the New Year's three-day weekend, the price for booking through the airline and the hotel was less than 50 cents. But the $138 price we could save by booking through American or the hotel instead of Expedia is worth a 50-minute signature massage at the Doral Spa.


The trip: A weeklong family ski trip at the Sundial Lodge at the Canyons in Park City, Utah

Booked through Southwest: $742.57
Booked through the hotel: $1,404.10
Booked through Expedia: $2,354.31
Best Bet: Southwest

The Findings: Southwest Airlines was our new best friend, with a $662 savings for booking the hotel with Southwest instead of directly through the Canyons. That would pay for the kids' lift tickets all week. And the $1,611.74 difference between booking with Southwest instead of Expedia would cover lifts for the family ($1,182 for six days of skiing) with enough money left over to pay for equipment rentals for the entire crew.

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