#travel sites for flights
Fliers check travel sites, then buy from airline sites
Frequent business travelers favor airline websites to book a flight but are open to using online travel agents’ websites if they improve.
Screenshot of Kayak.com (Photo: Kayak.com)
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Frequent business traveler Dennis Morris of Fox Island, Wash. uses a three-step process to book a flight online.
He finds a desired flight and a fare at an airline website, compares the fare with those cited by Expedia or Kayak and, if fares are comparable, returns to the airline website to book the flight.
“I prefer to work directly with the airline in case changes or issues come up,” explains Morris, the CEO of a boat manufacturing company and a USA TODAY Road Warrior who volunteers travel information. “My experience dealing with non-airline sites is that, if issues arise, addressing them is much more difficult.”
Many travelers like Morris favor airline websites, according to a survey released Monday by FlightView, which sells travel apps for mobile phones and daily travel information for airlines, airports and technology companies.
The survey — based on 2,066 people who used FlightView’s mobile app in April — reveals that 36% “typically search for” airline tickets on airline websites.
Twenty-nine percent say they typically search for airline tickets on websites of online travel agents such as Expedia and Orbitz, and 22% say they use travel search engines such as Kayak and TripAdvisor.
Most survey respondents — 59% — say they usually buy their tickets from airlines. Nearly 30% buy them from online travel agents, 8% buy them from traditional travel agents and 3% say they don’t book their own travel.
The survey also shows that —like Morris — travelers routinely go to non-airline websites to gather price or other flight information before using an airline to book a ticket.
Forty-one percent of respondents say they “sometimes” go to non-airline websites to get such information; 29% say they do that “most of the time,” and 19% say they “always” do that.
For business travelers, the results show that they “are incredibly connected and have hundreds of travel tools, mobile apps and services at their disposal,” says FlightView CEO Mike Benjamin.
“The choice to use one over another often comes down to the experience that the travel provider offers, and how well the provider keeps business travelers informed and engaged during their trip.”
Road Warrior Ashok Adur of Parsippany, N.J. is one business traveler who uses various Internet tools.
“For work-related travel we have been asked to go to orbitzforbusiness.net,” says Adur, who works in the plastics industry. “For other travel, I use different websites —airline, TripAdvisor, Expedia, CheapTickets, Bravofly or Kayak.”
FlightView’s survey shows that the most popular travel websites for “first searches” are Expedia and Kayak.
They were cited by 27% of respondents, followed by Travelocity (12.5%); Orbitz (11%); Priceline (5%) and TripAdvisor (4%).
Boston-based Road Warrior Tom Kelly says he uses Kayak or Google Flights first, then books a ticket on an airline’s website.
“Sometimes Kayak will have better flight combinations that are not available on the carrier’s site,” says Kelly, a supply chain manager in the aerospace and defense industries. “I also like the trending charts and flexible date options on Google Flights. You can also search by airline marketing alliance or see prices for regions on a map.”
FlightView’s survey shows that 46% of respondents say they would be more willing to book a flight with an online travel agent if they were assured they would automatically be rebooked on another flight if their original flight was canceled. Forty-two percent say they would be more likely to book with an online agent if the agent made it easier to manage their travel itineraries on a mobile device or a website.
Adur says he never uses online travel agents’ mobile apps, because some “are limited, especially for multiple flights and complicated travel itineraries.”
He likes to use airlines’ mobile apps, but they don’t always work, and some have “limited capability.”
Morris says he doesn’t use airlines’ mobile apps to book flights for several reasons, including problems with connectivity, speed and “readability for long or complex bookings.”
He uses airlines’ mobile apps “fairly regularly” after a booking is made, though, for changing a seat, flight status or check-in.
Find cheap fares
George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog.com offers some tips for travelers searching online for low airfares.
• Many airlines have private sales, reserving their best fares for their own websites.
• Check the websites of online travel agencies.
• If your travel dates are flexible, try a flexible-date search. Kayak.com has a good flexible-date calendar that can be used when you register at the website.
• Search often, because fares fluctuate throughout the day, and the number of seats offered at the cheapest fares changes frequently.
• Sign up for airfare alert e-mails, which are provided by many travel websites.
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