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Thursday, October 30, 2014         

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Facebook-ready apps ease process of arranging air travel to visit friends

By New York Times

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Two new travel apps are harnessing the power of Facebook to help friends spend some time together.

For those with a bit of flexibility and both time and money, TripCommon, a travel software company, recently completed beta testing for Hitlist, which works as a travel agent of sorts, monitoring fares between a home airport and a user's favored destinations.

When those fares drop in price, the app sends an alert, deeming flights "good," "great" or "spectacular," depending on how they measure up to the lowest fares of the previous season. If the price is right, users are directed to Skyscanner.com, a booking website, to make a purchase.

Following the lead of its parent company, which favors social networking technology, the app also uses Facebook to locate the home airports of friends, for which fare alerts can also be requested. If also in the Hitlist network, friends can view one another's destination wish lists or current bookings, or locate friends living in a potential destination.

TripCommon plans to soon expand Hitlist to other social networks, like LinkedIn, said Gillian Morris, the company's chief executive. While other search engines are great for working within specific parameters, she said, the goal of Hitlist is to help leisure travelers who want to register their intent and then sit back and let the app do the work for them.

Momondo, the travel search website, recently released its own social network-focused app, which also uses Facebook to assist with travel planning. A "Friend Compass" feature on the app displays a virtual compass of the user's Facebook friends, where they live and an estimated cost to fly to each. Search parameters can be narrowed to find people nationally, regionally or globally. And a "City View" option will display a wheel of general destinations worldwide, along with estimated fares to each.

Hitlist and Momondo are available on iOS and Android devices.

Rachel Lee Harris, New York Times






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