Two helpful sites that Budget Travel has raved about just teamed up. Yapta and TripIt compliment each other as nicely as peanut butter and chocolate. These sites now let you put money back in your pocket if a fare drops after you've booked it. They also help you keep track of all of your e-mailed itineraries and maps, letting you easily access them via hotel lobby computer or your smartphone. Happily, the services are free.
The joint effort means you can now forward your airline and hotel confirmation emails to TripIt (firstname.lastname@example.org). Your purchase price is quickly verified. If the airfare drops after you purchase it, Yapta will alert you if you're eligible for a refund or credit based on the airline's policies. Most fliers don't know that major U.S. airlines have policies that qualify you for a refund if the fare goes down after you book. Of course, they don't tell you when your fare changes—and fares drop only happen about 15 percent of the time—so travelers rarely see the money (which averages about $300, says Yapta). Thankfully, TripIt and Yapta keep track of these things for you, when you use either one of them.
To get you up to speed on these changes, here's some backstory…
Two-and-a-half years ago, Yapta introduced its free airfare-tracking service, which e-mails you the moment your fare dips. It's free to file for a refund or credit. If you don't want to deal with the pesky money-back paperwork, pay Yapta $15, and it'll file it for you.
Yapta also monitors rates at more than 110,000 hotels worldwide. Just pick a property and sign up to be alerted whenever it slashes its price for your travel dates.
Meanwhile, TripIt is a site where you can forward all of your confirmation e-mails for flights, hotels, and rental cars. TripIt takes those pesky details and automatically organizes them into a sorted itinerary you can access from any computer or smartphone. Since 2007, any TripIt user has been able to pull up their confirmation codes at the ticket counter on their phone, rather than printing everything up in advance. A recently launched iPhone app has simplified things even further.