What’s most important to you when booking a flight — price? Schedule? Number of connections? Legroom? The in-flight experience? For many travelers, the answer is “all of those things.” And airfare booking sites are responding.
Today TripAdvisor introduced a new version of its flight search engine that includes information such as legroom ratings (tight, average or spacious), whether seats with extra space are available for purchase, the cost of a first checked bag, and whether your seat has a personal TV screen and/or power outlet.
The default search results are sorted by lowest price, but you can also choose to show only nonstop options, to “avoid early flights” (before 8 a.m.) or to see the flights offering the “best value.” It’s not immediately clear what qualifies a flight for “best value” status. In one search, the site gave me a happy medium between an expensive nonstop flight and a cheaper but less convenient option with two layovers. In another, it suggested a nonstop flight that cost about $300 more than the cheapest, multi-leg flight (about a 25 percent increase in price).
These offerings are similar to those on other sites like Routehappy.com — which assigns flights a Happiness Score based on entertainment options, seat configuration, trip length and other factors — and Hipmunk.com, whose Agony Index sorts flights by a combination of price, length and number of layovers.
What’s cool about TripAdvisor’s flight search is that it has user photos so you can catch a glimpse of what your plane will look like. The site also pulls in seating charts and ratings from sister site SeatGuru.
For most of us, flying will never really be fun — but now at least we’ve got one more option to help us save money and make that in-flight experience just a little bit brighter.
– written by Sarah Schlichter
Editor’s Note: IndependentTraveler.com is published by The Independent Traveler, Inc., a subsidiary of TripAdvisor, Inc., which also owns SeatGuru.com.