NEW YORK - Searching for a flight and shopping numerous websites can be grueling, and you may have to write down flight numbers, departure times and fares to keep track of everything.
And when you return to the original airline, online travel agency or travel metasearch site hours or days later, fares may have risen or the flights may be unavailable.
Enter travel start-up Pintrips, which launched in beta in November. Pintrips is geared to ease much of the heavy lifting in searching for and keeping track of flights. It lets travelers pin their flight results from sites ranging from American Airlines to Expedia and Kayak on a dashboard, then sit back and watch the airfares update over hours, days or weeks.
When you're ready to book a flight, just click a Book Trip button on Pintrips, and you navigate ? usually ? into the booking path of the original website where you found the flight.
Pintrips achieves its aims with mixed results.
Pintrips works only with a Google Chrome browser plug-in, although the company says Pintrips will work with Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer, as well as feature mobile capabilities, before the end of June.
After registering for the free service on Pintrips.com, you install the plug-in and add hoped-for trips, specifying your departure and destination airports, dates, class of service, number of passengers and whether you desire round-trip, one-way or non-stop flights.
After clicking the Search & Pin button for a San Juan, Puerto Rico, trip from JFK, for instance, you can choose whether you want to search for the flight on American Airlines, Delta, Expedia, Google, JetBlue, Kayak, Orbitz, Southwest, US Airways, United, Virgin America or "other" website by entering a travel website URL.
If you choose to search for a San Juan flight on Delta.com, you navigate directly to the flight options and view a Pintrips-placed Pin button in the Delta.com results. You can choose to "pin" various flights, which are placed on your Pintrips dashboard.
You can pin an unlimited number of flights, including various departure/arrival times and classes of service from various airlines. You can then watch for airfare fluctuations when you view them on your Pintrips dashboard.
For the leisure traveler looking for a vacation and who's flexible about destinations, you can even pin flights to the Dominican Republic or Jamaica, and monitor the airfares to see which one makes for a more economical flight.
Pintrips doesn't guarantee that it will find you a lower fare. It merely shows you how the fares have changed, if they have.
A consistent frustration point: Many of the flights I pinned the night before for various trips appeared to be unavailable the next day even if the trip was a couple of months away.
For example, I pinned nine flights for a Chicago O'Hare flight to Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris, April 2-16, from United, Delta, Orbitz and Google. Pintrips showed that only two flights, one from Google and one from United, could be booked the next day.
The United fare had increased $3 overnight, and a Turkish Airlines flight from Google, with a nearly 10-hour layover in Istanbul, had decreased $79. But when I clicked the Book Trip button on Pintrips to purchase the Turkish Airlines flight, the navigation took me to the Turkish Airlines home page instead of to the booking path for the flight. So I would have had to re-enter my flight choices to book the flight.
Pintrips is a great concept, and I would use it the next time I research flights because you can easily keep track of selected flights in one place without having to return to each website to get updates. But a number of things about the beta site made the user experience a bit glitchy:
Pintrips gives you an "Other" option to put in a travel site URL for flight searching if you want one different from the choices Pintrips provides. I was never able to get it to work.
On some sites, such as Expedia.com, when I sought to pin a flight, the Pintrips Pin button was missing, so there wasn't an option to send the flight over to my Pintrips dashboard.
Navigating the Pintrips website wasn't always seamless.