Expedia vs Trip.com for flights Bookings
• Easy to use interface
• Flexible dates calendar is useful
• East to search and filter by flexible tickets
Expedia is one of the original online travel agencies, having been established back in the 90s. These days it fits within the Expedia group which includes other sites like Orbitz and Travelocity. Expedia operates in almost all markets around the world, but being a US operated company means that this is where there advantage is.
For round-trip tickets, Expedia displays the outbound route on the first page, and then allows you to select the return leg on the next page, whereas some other travel sites let you select both together. They do clearly indicate flights where baggage is not included, but don’t specifically let you know how much baggage is actually included, instead redirecting you to the airline’s own website, somewhat defeating the point of the site in the first place in our opinion. Likewise for change and cancellation fees they tell you that fees will apply but don’t specific how much these fees are. Filters offered are relatively simple, but unlike some competitors they don’t offer more advanced filters like filtering by your transfer point for multi-leg flights. Their flexible dates calendar is quite nice, giving you a grid view enabling you to adjust both the departure and return dates to get the best price. If the COVID-19 pandemic has got you worried, Expedia provides information about the practices of each airport on the search results page. Strangely, rather than let you filter by flights with or without baggage, Expedia adds a second airline into the filters where baggage is included, e.g. Jetstar and Jetstar with Baggage. They do however allow you to filter by flexible flights with no change fees whereas some other sites don’t. This is particularly important during these uncertain times. These flights are also clearly marked with a ‘No change fee’ tag on the search results page. We found Expedia’s search functionality to be generally fairly reliable, supporting states, countries, cities and even landmarks. As Expedia makes most of their money by selling hotels, you’ll consistently be asked to bundle a hotel with your flight. While slightly annoying (assuming you’re not looking to book a hotel), the prompts are not too intrusive and can easily be cancelled. For the flights which we looked at purchasing, we could at extra baggage, but there was no option to select our own seats, even for a cost. Other competitor sites offered this on the same flight. There were also no other options to book meals etc., whereas some of the local online travel agencies can offer this. On each booking you also have the opportunity to earn Expedia points which can be use to save money on your next Expedia booking. This is great, except that ironically they can’t be used to purchase flights which is somewhat self-defeating. While this restriction can also be found on some other travel sites, there are other sites which allow it. If you’re travelling with infants, you can specific whether they need a seat or will be traveling on your lap – most other sites can’t offer this so it’s a definite plus.
As Expedia operates as an agency of certain airlines, this means that there are often significant payment fees attached to your booking. Expedia is reasonably upfront with this though, detailing the exact fees throughout the process. Typically the exact fees will vary depending on which payment method you are planning to use. Overall, we’ve found Expedia’s pricing to be average as best. While there are certainly great deals to be had we certainly haven’t noticed any pricing which would strongly encourage us to buy from them. This is typical in the airline industry however, where margins are often razor thin.
While Expedia likes to constantly tell you on their website how many airlines that they work with, we’ve never found their coverage to be particularly great. The selection of major airlines is fine (as with all other online travel agencies), however their selection of low cost carriers is poor. Airlines like SouthWest (in the US) and Ryanair (UK/EU) can’t be found at all, or at least aren’t directly bookable, several rival online travel agencies have found a way to work around this.
Expedia’s platforms are available in around 40 different languages so it’s unlikely that you’re ever going to have a problem there. In addition, besides their website they also have a mobile app and mobile website. The only disappointing thing is that for several of the products on the app, they are essentially just links to the mobile-web version.
Expedia accept all major credit cards as well as PayPal. Unfortunately, they don’t offer any other payment methods like Apple Pay and Google Pay, or any buy-now-pay-later options like AfterPay or ZIP pay. Somewhat surprisingly they also don’t offer Gift Cards, although their Hotels.com arm actually does.
Generally speaking, Expedia’s booking service is quite reliable, however there is a big cloud hanging over their post-sale customer service, particularly in regards to long waiting times. They score a miserly 1.3 out of 5 or Trustpilot, however this isn’t necessarily the best way to determine the reputation of a business.
Expedia offers an online chatbot which can take care of quite a few of your standard requests and is quite advanced. You can also call them, however their phone number can be quite difficult to find on the website, you’ll have to answer a few questions minimum before it’s revealed to you. Expedia has a reputation of long-wait times on the phone, so be prepared before you call.
Expedia is definitely an option worth checking out, however it’s policies and functionality doesn’t match a lot of its competitors. If you’re traveling in North America they should probably be your first choice if availability and price are the most important thing to you, but look elsewhere if good customer service is a must for you.
• Easy to use interface
• Some of the cheapest tickets around
• Multiple pricing options for most tickets
Trip.com is rapidly expanding, with their website and mobile app now available in over 30 markets around the world. One of the best things about Trip.com is that it’s much more transparent than some of the competitors, always displaying information about baggage, change, cancellations and more, and that their customer service always picks up the phone almost instantly. When you combine this with some of the best pricing in the industry, it’s no wonder that Trip.com is making such an impact lately.
Let’s start with the basics – single trips, round-trips and multi-leg trips are all supported. International and domestic flights are both covered also. Their site also offers a useful price graph to determine which day is the cheapest, although its results do vary. You can also set multiple destinations and see which is the cheapest which is definitely a cool feature, but as with above, it’s not 100% accurate. Searching via the map is a another nifty feature if you have a budget but don’t know where you can fly with it. When booking a return flight Trip.com has recently added the option to select first the outbound leg and then the return leg, or to select them both at the same time with the “Switch Selection Mode” feature. Once rather peculiar feature that they have are “late-issued” tickets, which can be issued any time up to 72 hours before a flight. They are guaranteed to be issued, so you aren’t taking much of a risk, however they can be unnerving. In our own experience, they are actually usually issued much quicker, in fact when we book one it was issued within a few hours. Regardless, these tickets are always clearly marked as such so the choice is always yours. In the plus side, this kind of ticket is usually excellently priced. Compared with some of its competitors, Trip.com’s search functionality is a little bit lacking. You can’t search by attraction, and if there’s no airport where you want to go forget it, where other online travel sites will give you nearby recommendations, Trip.com will give you nothing. In terms of filters, they allow you to filter by flights with checked baggage which is definitely helpful, however there’s no option to search by flights with free changes or cancellation which would be very useful. Another great feature for those who travel frequently is the option to filter by airlines alliance like OneWorld – particularly useful if you’re trying to rack up those frequent flyer miles. We tend to find Trip.com a little bit annoying when searching for return flights. If you select your outbound leg on a premium airline, it will still show results for low cost carriers for the return trip up the top of the page. It seems extremely unlikely that people would match these two types of flights together. Trip.com is quite different than other travel sites, in that it often gives you multiples prices for the same flight, but with different booking conditions. Once you’ve made your booking, Trip.com will automatically send you an e-receipt, and you can reissue yourself one at an time, even with a company name on it if you did.
If you search on comparison sites like Skyscanner, you’ll find that Trip.com has some very competitive prices for flights. One things to look our for though are the change and cancellation fees, as they might not be in line with the airline’s own fees. There is no booking fee or credit card fees when booking with Trip.com They don’t charge extra for changes and cancellations, they simply pass on the cost that the airline or their supplier charges them. As with most OTA’s, make sure to pay attention to the change and cancellation charges before booking as they might not be in line with the airline’s own charges. Generally speaking though, Trip.com does quite a good job at outlining these fees up front. On some rare occasions though the fees are not displayed and a simple message stating “Check with the airline” is displayed which can be somewhat disappointing.
Trip.com provides worldwide coverage and it’s rare to find flights which they don’t have, which the usual exceptions like Southwest who don’t make their flights available to online travel sites. Having said that, in terms of pricing, you’ll find that flights within Asia and to-and-from Asia are their strongest point. Bear in mind that with their global ambitions, this is likely changing fairly rapidly.
Trip.com is available on desktop, mobile, and through their iOS and Android apps - which is what they are best known for. It’s also available in more than 20 languages including Arabic, which not many other competitors can provide (app only).
In terms of payment, Trip.com accepts major credit cards including Visa, Mastercard and American Express. They also accept PayPal, although it only appears to be available for major currencies. The mobile apps also accept both Apple Pay and Google, which are also somewhat supported on their desktop site. Besides this, iDealpay is accepted when paying in Euros, NaverPay when paying in Korean Won, and Wechat Pay and Alipay if paying in Chinese Yuan. Generally speaking, this is one of the most comprehensive payment experiences of any online flight booking site.
Trip.com’s reputation is not fantastic – although having said that no OTA is. If we look at sites like Trustpilot though we can see that in between the porr comments there are an awful lot of highly positive comments, so they’re obviously doing something right. Given that they lay out all the information fairly well, it’s likely a lot of the unsatisfied customers are simply people who have booked non-refundable flights and want to get a refund.
Trip.com offers customer service over the phone through a series of local phone numbers, through email, and through online chat on their app and website. From our testing, both phone calls and mobile chat are always answered almost instantly, instantly scoring big points on our test – in fact they were the only OTA where we experienced this. One of the great things about Trip.com is that you can actually do a great deal of things without any need for customer service, like make changes and cancellations on any booking (where rules permit).
Trip.com is not nearly as established in international markets as players like Expedia when it comes to flights, however with the backing of their parent company they’re able to deliver some excellent prices with good reliability and excellent customer service. If you haven’t heard of Trip.com yet, you’ll be hearing about them soon.