Which Online Trip Booking Site is Best for You?
Even a recent article in the New York Times says that there is not one best online airline and travel booking website. In fact, there are so many choices that it can be a little overwhelming to try to figure out which one best meets your needs. The only good solution is to find the one that best meets your needs, and this is particularly true if you need to watch your budget.
The New York Times article reported on a test of a handful of different sites. This test included big websites like Travelocity and Expedia, but it also included some niche travel sites that are not household names. Six test itineraries were included in the text, and they included travel in the United States and overseas. Some large U.S. travel sites, like Bing Travel, had to be excluded from the test because they only book domestic U.S. flights.
Which Travel Site is Cheapest?
The big travel sites included Travelocity, Expedia, Kayak, and Orbitz. They were all very good at finding cheap fairs, and most of the time they reported fairs within a few dollars of each other. In some instances, a smaller travel site did beat the big guys. For example, RouteHappy and Monomondo found cheaper flights from Miami to Chicago.
The advice from this study is to pick your favorite large travel site and also try an upstart to see if they pull out a better price. In other words, using all of the big travel sites or all of the niche sites may not be a good use of your time. Pick one from column A and one from column B.
What if Travel Price isn’t Everything
The survey found that many travel sites only display the cheapest routes, and they don’t care if these flights include 6 hour layovers. Most people would consider paying an extra $25 to $50 – or more – is a small price to pay to spend less time in airports and more time on vacation. This might particularly matter on long international or cross country trips.
The survey found that a site called HipMunk has an agony index that drops routes with really long layovers or other inconveniences to the bottom of the search. After all, if you have to lose time at work, it might really work out cheaper to spend more on a better flight.
What About Hotels?
If you don’t mind a mystery, Priceline may actually find you the best price on a “mystery” hotel. Sometimes, you can put in ridiculously low bids and actually come up with reasonable matches, but make sure you understand the system because it is a little risky. Priceline also has a regular service where you can see the hotels before you allow the site to charge your credit card.
Which Online Travel Sites Are Easiest to Use?
They survey liked these three user interfaces the best: Momondo, Kayak, and Hipmunk. That said, those might be your choices for a big travel site (Kayak) and some niche ones if you care about simple user interfaces and easy-to-understand information.