Whether you are looking to travel for relaxation, access to vital business contacts, or an adventure, you need a good way to plan your trip and find great deals. With travel agents slowly becoming a thing of the past, more and more travelers are turning to online travel sites. But, how can you determine which sites are worth your money and which should be avoided?
For more than a decade, I have been using a variety of online sites to plan my extensive travel schedule. In that time, I have come across plenty of frustrating options along with others that I use over and over again. The ones I found to be most useful are reviewed on this site. In this article, we will take a close look at Cheapflights.com
Owned by the private media company Momondo Group and headquartered in Boston and London, Cheapflights is a family of travel websites. Flights are not sold on the Cheapflights sites. Instead, they publish deals and information online from low-cost airlines, travel operators, and other airlines in the UK, the United States, and across the globe.
In 1996, founder John Hatt, a travel journalist, pioneered the travel search engine (TSE) with Cheapflights. Cheapflights then became the first vertical search travel price comparison site to introduce the pay-per-click (PPC) online advertising remuneration model in early 2000 following a buy-in by entrepreneurs Hugo Burge and David Soskin.
This PPC concept still provides travel operators with free listings for their flight deals to be published online. This sets Cheapflights apart from their competitors that only pay for high-quality leads that click through to their telephone call centers or sites. Cheapflights has helped its advertisers to achieve more than $3 billion in sales per year, and the site gets over 100 million visits in a year.
Top Features of Cheapflights.com
Cheapflights is the perfect choice for travelers who are looking for the best overall travel deal and who are flexible with their travel dates. Unlike other sites, all of the fares deals offered by the advertisers include taxes. They provide shoppers with flight alternatives based on dates of travel, airlines, and price, but they do not book hotels or flights.
Cheapflights publishes airfare deals from both low-cost and traditional airlines along with smaller specialty travel providers. They also provide last minute offers and flights that cannot be found anywhere else on the Internet.
Cheapflights.com gives you two ways to search. Search by city, country, or region if you are flexible with your travel dates. They will show you the best offers and the partner site where you can book your flight. They work with more than 300 partners to bring you better travel deals, including Orbitz, Hotwire, Expedia, and others. For those of you who do not have flexible dates, you can search by date instead.
The site prides itself on supplying users with everything they need for their next trip. To assist you in finding the ideal destination, they have over 500 travel guides to worldwide destinations whether you need some travel inspiration or you know where you want to go. The guides include useful information, such as local customs, when to travel, and visa/passport requirements.
When you visit Cheapflights.com, it is incredibly easy to begin your search for flights. Right at the top of the home page, you enter your travel information, or you can choose to search by date, vacation packages, hotels, flight deals, car rentals, special offers, and more.
If you are just interested in flights, you can enter your information into the online form. You are given the option of searching for flights only or flights plus hotels. You plug in from where you are traveling, where you want to go, your target departure and return dates, the number of travelers, and click “Find deals.” It is just that simple.
Once you click “Find deals,” you are given a list of sites with great deals on flights to your destination. You choose which site you want to visit for deals, and it opens up in a new tab. From there, you have left the Cheapflights experience and are on the site of the partner you chose.
Before you visit the partner site, it is helpful to scroll down the page a bit. One cool feature of Cheapflights is that they give you all sorts of fun travel information. For instance, they will tell you how many partners offer flights between your place of departure and destination, number of flight deals, cheapest flight cost, average flight, and how much various things cost in the two cities.
I enjoy reading about the different facts and figures they include. Some of these facts are the percentage of flights that are delayed between the two cities, how long the flights are delayed, how often they are canceled, what types of airplanes are used, and what connecting airports are usually used.
One of my favorite features on CheapTickets.com is their Cheapflights Newsletter. It comes in four topics: Breaking News, Travel Hotlist, Destination Specials, and Sunday Magazine. I like Destination Specials because it keeps you updated on special travel prices from your town to a range of hot destinations.
Due to the nature of Cheapflights.com, they are the place to go if you want the best deals on flights, hotel rooms, or car rentals. As an aggregator of all of the other aggregators, you can easily find the best deals on the internet.
I knew that logically it made sense that Cheapflights.com was the cheapest, but for this review, I did my due diligence and compared the prices for flights on Cheapflights.com to those found on other sites. I found that the prices were the same whether you went directly to the partner sites or you went through Cheaptickets.com.
Criticism of Cheapflights.com
My biggest criticism of Cheapflights is that they essentially just serve as a middleman for other sites. It would be much more convenient if you could just book flights using the site. Instead, you need to go to the site of one of their partners. Yet, if you are looking for deals and do not care when you travel, Cheapflights cannot be beaten.
Another problem with Cheapflights not selling tickets directly is that they cannot really help you if you run into problems. You have to contact the merchant that you actually bought your reservation or ticket from if you need to reschedule your travel plans or have any problems or complaints. However, Cheapflights can help you if you have trouble remembering who you make your purchase through.
For the most part, I have had a great experience using Cheapflights. I use the site whenever I have flexible dates because that is really where the good deals are.
To find out what other people had to say about Cheapflights, I took to the online travel site discussion forums. For the most part, people had good experiences with Cheapflights.com. The major complaint was what I covered above: Many people tried to use it to book flights with specific dates and found it was not useful .
If you ever have trouble using Cheapflights.com, there are a variety of ways to seek help. First of all, they go into detail explaining how to best use the site to your advantage. If you have questions, chances other people have too. You can get the answers in the Frequently Asked Questions section. This covers an array of topics, including travel queries, flight reservations, partner issues, and pricing problems.
If your questions are not answered in these sections, they have a feedback form you can fill out. In addition, they provide an address for snail mail if you do not mind waiting a while. They are also quite active on social media sites like Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.
I had heard complaints about the Cheapflights customer service department. Most of the issues were with people who did not realize that they were not booking flights directly with Cheapflights, and therefore, Cheapflights.com was not able to help them with the problems they had with their flights.
I wanted to put their customer service to the test. So, I submitted a feedback form late on a Saturday night before I went to bed. I was surprised to find that there was an answer awaiting me when I awoke the next morning. The customer service rep answered my question thoroughly and provided me with documentation.
Cheapflights is good for what it is. It aggregates all of the other online travel sites, so you can easily compare prices before making your travel plans. With Cheapflights.com, you get added value with the travel guides and information specifically tailored to your destination.
Cheapflights is most useful when you know you want to travel somewhere, but you do not have specific dates when you need to go. For this reason, I would strongly recommend Cheapflights.com to anyone who is looking to go on a trip without a specific timeline.