A routine morning check showed the flights I'd been tracking for weeks dropped from $1,400 to $989.
Within seconds, Kayak linked me to Delta's website and the itinerary I selected. I hit "Review and Purchase" and bought the tickets. An hour later, the price was back to $1,400.
Fares on other European flights plunged that day, then quickly disappeared, causing some to suspect a pricing error. Delta wouldn't say what happened, but I was more convinced than ever of the value of online-travel search sites to ferret out the best deals — fast.
Now a standoff with the airlines threatens to dilute the usefulness of these sites, or in some cases, cut them out entirely.