Star Tribune:

Robert Metcalf was planning to visit his brother in Pennsylvania three years ago and, being a methodical man, he began to search the Internet for the best round-trip airfare from the Twin Cities.

He had a flexible timetable, a choice of airports near his brother’s home and a stubborn determination to find the combination of timing and routes that would yield the lowest fare at the least hassle.

After spending hours developing a spreadsheet using data from travel sites Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz, Metcalf found the best deal, but decided there had to be a better way.

So after studying airline pricing, developing a system and fine-tuning it to be as user-friendly as he could make it, last February Metcalf unveiled Flyspy, an airfare search engine that graphically depicts the cheapest days on which to travel and the cheapest airports near a desired destination for the next 30 days.

“This is a new twist, and I really think it has a place in the market,” Terry Trippler, a Minneapolis-based fare analyst said. “The other sites only give you what’s available (on a particular day), so you don’t know if there’s a better deal out there.”

The service is free to consumers. Metcalf, who works from his home in south Minneapolis, expects to make money by selling ads and collecting a fee from airlines when tickets are booked through the site.