When I heard about InsideTrip.com’s launch, I got excited. See, when I was running PriceGrabber’s now-deceased travel site, we tried to incorporate more than just price and schedule into the shopping experience. We added on-time information, seat pitch, powerports, etc. For some reason, other sites have never felt the need to show this sort of information, even if it can give the passenger a reason to pay more for one airline vs another. Now InsideTrip.com has done just that, and I must say, they’ve done a great job collecting and displaying this information.
I think the best way to explain what they have done is to just walk through a search. I figured I’d go for the route that has the most potential. Horrible delays, many competitors, unique product differences? Oh yeah, it has to be LA to New York. So let’s look for a trip from LAX to NYC on some random days in April (9-16).
As you can see (sorry I can’t have a wider picture here), my first results weren’t exactly ideal. A connection to LaGuardia one way and back from Philly’s train station (!?!) the other way? I think not. So, I cleaned it up using filters that any site would have to only show nonstop flights and only to Newark or JFK.
So now, my cheapest flight is $233 on United. Many people would just jump on that one if the flight times were fine and be on their way. But now, all of a sudden, I can see that for $40 more, JetBlue’s option received a 92 instead of an 86. Is it worth it? Well, it depends on what matters to you. Let’s look at the details. First, you’ll see the United flights and then below that the JetBlue flights. I’ve tiled across the three different tabs to make it easy to see everything.
Check out the details and you’ll see that there’s no difference in speed (duh, it’s a nonstop flight on both). When it comes to comfort, JetBlue gives me more legroom and if I’m checking bags, JetBlue does a better job of making sure that they arrive with me.
So is it worth it to pay more? I’d probably pay it, but that’s a personal decision, of course. For me, the most important thing is something that isn’t even addressed here but would be a nice addition. Long Beach is a far easier airport to navigate than LAX is. Sure, it looks like they both have similar security line situations, but anyone who has used both airports knows that you can park closer and cheaper, get to your gate quicker, and have an overall easier time at the airport if you fly out of Long Beach.
It just goes to show that there’s plenty more information that could be useful, and this first round of information that’s still in beta is really just the tip of the iceberg, albeit a very large tip.
There are, of course, some other issues, but I’ve been assured by InsideTrip.com CEO Dave Pelter that they’re working on them. They don’t handle information on codeshare flights accurately all the time. A LAX-LHR search showed that they were using information on Delta aircraft for a flight actually operated by Air France, but that’s something that’s easily fixed. If you happen to see any inaccuracies, Dave asks that you send any issues to firstname.lastname@example.org so they can fix them.
Fortunately, you can take things out of the trip quality calculation that may not interest you. I would certainly recommend removing aircraft age out of there, because that’s completely irrelevant. Try flying on a 20 year old US Airways 737 and a 40 year Northwest DC-9 and you’ll probably be begging for the DC-9 every time once you see the inside.
Probably the biggest issue I see is that you can’t pick and choose which attributes are most important to you by direction. If I’m flying to Europe, seat comfort will be most important so I can try to get a good night’s sleep, but if I’m flying back, then I care about food and inflight entertainment a lot more. Right now, you can only choose what’s important for the whole itinerary and they don’t have any plans to change that in the near future.
One other thing to keep in mind is that the back end is powered by Orbitz, so these fares will include the booking fee. Once you find what you want, you might still want to head over to the airline website to save a few bucks. Or you might decide that it’s worth the extra money to keep an informative site like this going. Hopefully they’ll start offering more options than Orbitz at some point, but until then, it’s still absolutely worth using this site.