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Yahoo updates travel site

Changes will let people refine search results according to such criteria as preferred airlines and number of stops.

Yahoo has added new features to its Farechase travel Web site, the company said Thursday.

Farechase searches other Web sites for fares and rates. The upgrades are designed to let people refine their search results according to such criteria as preferred airlines, flight times, nearby airports and number of stops. People will also be able to sort results by price and departure times. In addition, the Web site will support more browsers, including Firefox, Netscape and Safari.

Yahoo began building up its travel service after taking over FareChase last year, and it began testing the site in September. Yahoo has been angling to build more-robust consumer travel services without tapping third parties.

Meanwhile, online travel services continue to gain popularity. According to research released Thursday by Keynote Systems, 67 percent of 2,000 consumers participating in a study reported that they are likely to book a hotel room online. That compares with 57 percent who are open to using a phone reservation system.

Just 16 percent said they are willing to use a travel agent. The price difference and ability to compare prices are driving consumers to favor online travel, Keynote said.

"We've seen a continual increase in consumer comfort and use of the Internet for booking travel arrangements, but this is the first time we have seen all the online options for booking beating the offline options," Bonny Brown, director of research at Keynote, said in a statement.

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