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InsideTrip: Web Site Review

flags of the worldA note about international flights: InsideTrip does not always have as much information about international itineraries and airlines as it does about domestic ones. The site only offers lost luggage statistics for the Department of Transportation's top 20 U.S. airlines, and only lists load factor and security wait time information for flights that depart from or arrive in the U.S.

InsideTrip also notes that not all TripQuality areas are weighted equally. The site's FAQ section explains that the "number of stops" category is weighted more heavily than the "lost luggage" category when calculating the total TripQuality rating for a flight. That means that while you can choose which factors the site includes in calculating your personal ratings, you cannot currently customize how important each of those factors is to you.

Functionality and Design: InsideTrip's design is clean and intuitive. The simple, uncluttered home page features only a basic flight search box and a few informative links -- no ads or messy graphics. The flight search results page offers a wealth of information in a layout that's easy to navigate and customize. I particularly liked the way each trip is represented by a visual itinerary bar that shows how much time you'll spend in the air versus connecting in an airport.

The site offers other useful visual aids as well. When you click into the details of a TripQuality rating, areas in which a flight excels are highlighted in green, while the color yellow indicates problem areas.

I did have a few quibbles about the site. InsideTrip currently offers roundtrip or one-way fare searches only -- so if you have a complicated open-jaw itinerary, you're out of luck. Users are also restricted to economy or first-class flights; business, premium economy and other fare classes are not available. Also missing are child and senior fares.

Finally, I found the search process to be one of the slowest I've ever used on the Web. According to InsideTrip, your search could take up to a minute. And if you click over to Orbitz for booking, change your mind and hit the back button to get back to your search results page, InsideTrip will run your whole search again.

Neat and Nifty
If you use the site once and then return again later, InsideTrip will remember your previous searches and list them on the right side of the home page -- saving you the time of retyping your itinerary and dates.

Buyer Beware
southwest airlinesLike Orbitz, which powers its flight search engine, InsideTrip does not list fares for every airline. Missing are several discount airlines such as Southwest and Spirit.

The site has a recurring technical glitch in the entry fields for departure and arrival city; I often got an error message stating that InsideTrip didn't recognize my airport, though I could see the site prefilling the entry field with the airport I wanted.

The Bottom Line
InsideTrip offers a truly unique flight searching experience for travelers who care about more than just price and schedule when booking a trip. There's information available here that no other online flight booking engine provides, making InsideTrip an invaluable resource to check each time you're planning a trip.

Airfares change so often and vary so widely that we would never recommend checking only one Web site before booking a flight; however, InsideTrip's prices were well in line with its competitors' offerings for the itineraries we tested. Checking InsideTrip early in your trip planning will give you an idea of which airlines fly a particular route, what the fares may be, and which itineraries will be most comfortable and convenient.

In the future we'd love to see InsideTrip add even more factors to its TripQuality rating, such as baggage fees, onboard entertainment and the ability to reserve a seat online ahead of time. For the frequent fliers among us, it would also be convenient to be able to enter which loyalty programs we belong to and have flights from member airlines rank higher. InsideTrip is still in beta, so more improvements and customizations will probably be added to the site in the future. But for now, it's still a must-visit site when planning your next flight.

Independent Traveler Grade: A
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    --written by Sarah Schlichter

    Editor's Note: IndependentTraveler.com is published by The Independent Traveler, Inc., a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, which also owns SeatGuru.com.
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