Farecast, the plane ticket price predictor site, is now live in 55 U.S. cities, including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Chicago, and Atlanta.
The company is building a direct competitor to travel-oriented vertical search engines Kayak and SideStep, but with the added bonus of recommendations on when the best price for a particular trip is bound to be available. Farecast’s first public beta in June only included Seattle, its hometown, and Boston.
It’s nice to see the rapid change online travel is going through, even if we might think things are bubbly. It wasn’t so long ago that Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz were picking off the travel agents.
Now the middlemen are being circumvented again; those sites seem terribly old-school. Airlines are building out good web sites of their own, and tools like Farecast make it simple to see who actually offers what you’re looking for.
Farecast is experimenting with “flexible travel” search through a cool Flash/AJAX interface. The idea is you input some basic information, such as where you want to leave from and in what month, and the site provides a graph of where to go, when to go, and how long to stay for. I had some trouble testing this in Firefox and Safari but when it works it’s pretty (see screenshots).
The 22-person company, which is based on research out of the University of Washington, has raised $7 million from Greylock Partners, Madrona Venture Group and WRF Capital over the last three years. Today’s release also includes RSS feeds for tracking fares and contextual search advertising.