Survey of online flight portals

by   Profile Mares   When 24th September 2015

Find out which portal offers the best deals

Divers have been known to travel quite a bit to reach good dive
locations worldwide. When searching for cheap flights, one should not
blindly rely on just any online portal, as the price fluctuations can
be great. Sometimes, there may even be a price trap in the booking
process. The German Institute for Service Quality (DISQ) surveyed
twelve online flight reservation portals recently, on behalf of the
n-tv news channel.

High potential for savings
Flights that need just a few clicks to complete the booking offer the
best prices. The survey revealed that customers can save about 25
percent by selecting the right portal, perhaps as much as 34.9 percent
for European flights. According to Bianca Möller, Managing Director of
DISQ, the price comparisons are especially noticeable for expensive
long-haul flights; for instance, the Frankfurt-New York flight, which
showed a difference of nearly 100 Euros among the different portals.

Although the online portals are legally obliged to display the total
price, there have been instances where the booking prices increase as
one progresses further into the booking process. This comes in the form
of sudden fare changes or additional costs.

While online portals offer free payment facilities, one often needs a
special (and unusual) credit card to use it. As a result, some
customers are forced to use other conventional payment methods like
other credit cards or cash, and these may cause them to incur drastic
monetary penalties, said Möller.

He cited the example of the cheapest Hamburg-London-Hamburg route in
early October, which starts at 94 Euros per person. On the booking
page, the price is already 98.88 Euros if payment is made via a
MasterCard Gold Flight portal. However, if the customer pays via Visa,
the price is 130.84 Euros. Hence, the initial advertised price would
have increased by almost 40 percent.

A considerable performance gap also exists among the different flights,
reflected in the overall results. Only one of the airline portals has
achieved the quality rating of “Very Good”, while seven of the portals
were rated “Satisfactory”. On the other end of the scale, two other
portals only received a “Sufficient” rating.

The top three portals
The top portal is, which achieved a “Very Good” rating. It
has the best website and offers the best deals for air travel. Any
necessary price increase is clearly shown during the booking process.
It also offers a free payment option (direct bank transfer), and scores
“Very Good” in the price analysis, with eight out of ten routes being
the cheapest in the survey. is in second place, with the quality rating of “Good”. Its
relatively attractive prices, which are invariably lower than the rest
of the portals analysed. The portal also scores high with its extensive
flight and travel information, which includes details on the baggage
and cancellation terms of individual airlines. Its website is rated as
“satisfactory”. is ranked third, rated as “Good”. Besides its attractively
priced air travel deals, its reservation procedures were also highly
ranked. It offers a toll-free universal payment option while its terms
and conditions, and privacy policy are explicitly stated.

In all, the German Institute for Service Quality surveyed twelve major
online portals that offered direct flight bookings. The service quality
was calculated based on a detailed content analysis of the site and the
booking process. In addition, the internet analysis focused on the
portal’s informational value, ease of use, price transparency and
security. Another aspect of the analysis included the evaluation of ten
specific flights (short-haul, medium-haul and long-haul), based on a
set of predefined criteria. The prices in the survey were collected on
4th, 7th and 12th August 2015.

Source: German Institute for Service Quality, on behalf of n-tv

Written by
Profile Mares
When 24th September 2015
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