TripAdvisor launches flight meta search engine

TripAdvisor has unveiled a flight meta search engine on its UK site, eight months after the launch of the service in the US.

The meta search engine has been given a UK-centric focus and features the fees estimator with information on fees and charges across scheduled and no-frills airlines as well as estimated onboard food and drink costs.

Prior to launching the UK search engine, TripAdvisor carried out research on flight booking behaviour among 600 Britons. It revealed that 68% are surprised by the final price of a flight when they get to the payment stage.

TripAdvisor general manager of new initiatives Bryan Salzburg said: “Given the confusion in the market place, not being surprised by extra fees [as a result of the fees estimator] has a big impact.” 

The engine searches for flights from a number of online travel agencies including Ebookers, parent-company Expedia, and Opodo as well as the major airlines.

Salzburg added that TripAdvisor was ‘proactively engaged’ in discussions with all airlines and that it currently had a direct connect agreement with British Airways but no direct relationship with easyJet.

Airline seat plans are also integrated into the service from SeatGuru.

The research also revealed that consumers shop online for three and a half hours for a flight and visit about six sites before choosing where to book.

In addition, 77% are unaware of card-payment fees for the major European carriers while 64% are unaware of the varying baggage allowances.

The engine currently covers UK and European flights and there are plans to extend it to include transatlantic services in the pipeline.

More information:

* TripAdvisor tight-lipped over review validity warnings (Travel Weekly, July 22, 2009)

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