I search for the word “Iraq” on Technorati, the blog-content indexing and search service. I view the results in Technorati’s “Mini” applet, a neat little pop-up window, updated every 60 seconds, showing the latest blog posts related to Iraq. At the bottom of the Mini window is a perky little ad that’s supposed to be relevant to my search:
Find cheap flights and hotel rates for Iraq from over 100
top travel sites at Kayak.com. Book direct and save.
Clicking on that link takes you to a Kayak page that invites you to choose one of seven Baghdad hotels for your upcoming trip. Top of the list: The Ishtar, on Saadoun Street. Amenities include free parking, car rental, a multilingual staff, an outdoor pool, and jogging (with all that going for it, the joint still rates only 5.0 out of 10 based on 32 Kayak users).
When you try to book a week at the Ishtar, though, Kayak returns a screen saying that if you want a reservation at any of the listed Baghdad hotels, you need to call them. If you try to book a flight, you hit another roadblock: a browser window pops up saying that no one Kayak does business with is flying to Baghdad. Just out of curiosity, I checked two other big online travel agents, Orbitz and Expedia, and they won’t get you to Baghdad, either. Curious, eventually I found the booking site for Iraqi Airways, which flies three round trips a week between Baghdad and Dubai in United Arab Emirates for 1600 AED (Emirati dirham), about $450.