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Orbitz searches for more dates

The online travel site plans to introduce on Monday a new feature that allows people to search for airline flights on multiple dates at once.

Orbitz plans to introduce a new feature on its online travel site on Monday that allows people to search for airline flights on multiple dates at once.

The new feature, called FlexSearch, is designed to save time for people who are searching for the best deal and are undecided about their dates of travel, according to an Orbitz representative. Instead of conducting separate searches for each possible date of travel, a person could search on a month's worth of flights on 450 airlines in one query. FlexSearch checks for flight availability at the same time.

Orbitz claims the new feature is exclusive to Orbitz and is the first of its kind in the online travel industry. FlexSearch, the representative said, is more advanced than the search tools that even travel agents use. Online competitors' computer systems don't have the power to offer such a feature, she added.

Online travel sites such as Orbitz, Expedia and Travelocity.com, owned by Sabre Holdings, have proven to be among the few viable Internet businesses. The percentage of people booking travel online through Web sites such as Travelocity or Orbitz rose from 16 percent in 2001 to 21 percent in 2002, according to a survey co-sponsored by Orbitz last year.