Online Travel assistance

I recently had to book some flights for business travel and the online landscape has changed. Did you hear the one about American Airlines not appearing on Expedia? Back in January, American Airlines has its second falling out with an online airline sales website due to contract issues, namely the airline wants to pay these sites less money and have users book directly on their own website.

Airlines and hotels are increasingly encouraging the public to book directly on their corporate sites rather than through third party aggregators to offer additional buy-ins like hotel room upgrades and airline seat choices to the consumer. This trend could force Expedia, Travelocity and others to change their business models slightly in order to stay in business.

hipmunk

While Global Business Travel Assn says booking directly with the airline and the hotelier may increase costs for the customer, other sites are popping up to help you compare prices and make sure you’re getting the bang for your buck. Here’s one to show your colleagues: Hipmunk.com is a very easy-t0-use site that organizes its search based on time, price and agony. It doesn’t support all airlines, yet. Toronto’s Porter Airlines for example, wasn’t appearing in any of their beautiful charts.  Upon chatting with their very helpful live help chat, they thanked me for letting them know the airline was missing. How nice!

Bonus: OK, so say you’re flying to the U.S. and you want to check up on an airport’s hands-on TSA review process, look no further than this TSA Status site, created and updated by its users.  This heavily rainbowed site doesn’t have the cleanest of interfaces, but it is handy. It’s also a great place if you feel a compulsion to complain about a TSA agent online.

So next time you need to book a flight for work or pleasure, impress everyone with your knowledge of these two handy sites. Got others?