[LINK] What's wrong with Internet travel
Wed, 25 Sep 2002 21:33:33 +1000
> From: Chirgwin, Richard
> 1) A great many sites ask you for traveller numbers - ie, 2
> Adults, 2 Children. Why they do this is a mystery, because
> they only report a single adult fare - you have to grab
> pencil and paper to get a total. So someone's put in a
> checkbox for no better reason than it was a good idea.
I did a lot of pricing (US hotels, motels, attractions etc) for a family
trip this Christmas and saw extra dialog boxes pop up and ask the ages
of the kids where it made a difference to the admission price or where
children got in for free.
> 2) For a while, I was watching and reporting on prices using
> Webjet. However, this site's just gone through a redesign; as
> a result, I cannot find any way to run a comprehensive
> international fare search; if you run a search, you get just
> one page of results, no scrolling and no "next 10 results"
> button. That pretty much finished the discussion for that site.
Did a SYD-LHR return search for December and got 143 hits over 12 pages.
Using MSIE6 here. Cheapest is $1638 on Jordanian.
> 3) Travel.com.au - the search produced a blank page.
Cheapest fare there is Air Vietnam (!) at $1549. Using MSIE6 again.
failed to do anything more often than not. Sometimes the same link
would not open more than once.
> 4) Travelshop.com.au - at last lots of fares.
Cheapest there is Garuda at $1599. Prices rise a lot faster there than
at the previous site.
> 5) BUT - this complaint is common for every site I visited -
> decrypting what you're buying demands two things: that you
> can easily identify airlines from either their logos or
> abbreviations; and that you can decipher terms and conditions.
Not true of any of the above. The last of the three tells you to hover
the mouse pointer over the logo to see the airline name. This is pretty
slack, but the other two spell out the airline name in full next to the
logo. At travel.com.au I saw only the textual names, no logos.
> help. Some guides exist on the 'net - but that means leaving
> the site to find out who's offering the ticket. Dumb design...
Cripes - I'd open as many instances of the browser as necessary. Why
leave the site?
> 6) Finally found the kids fare notation in the T&Cs - 75% of
> adult - but no way to tell which of the offered flights don't
> offer this discount (some don't, I know).
Don't fly Vietnam Airlines - from the detailed rules at travel.com.au:
"75% (2-11 YEARS) - NO ACCOMPANIED CHILDREN" JAL is more
kidlet-friendly "75% (2 - 11 YEARS) NO UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN".
> 7) The T&Cs are written, jargonised and acronymed for travel
> agents. Now, this is where things get silly: the idea of
> these sites (and a great many
> others) is that you can disintermediate travel. Well: only if
> you don't mind spending (say) $10k without knowing the T&Cs
> (yeah, right). Or if you already know what "open JAW, pax, SU
> per TAF" etc means.
Agreed. Only travel geeks like myself (just a tyro) who hang out in
flyertalk.com and rec.travel.air use those acronyms outside the travel
> The result? I will probably end up following what I suspect a
> lot of others do - work out how I want to travel (if I want
> to), and get a travel agent to sort it out for me.
That's what will lead to many TAs charging for advice. Unless you make
it clear that you are nearly destitute (in relative terms), you won't be
told the lowest fare. In some places I normally am given rooms around
US$200 per night and sometimes one has to stay there owing to the
location, but when I insisted on something very cheap, I was offered a
free night for every paid night deal - at US$94.
> I note with interest that some of the online travel companies
> are having challenges maintaining their share price (how's
> that for a euphemism?). I think I know why...
One of them didn't buy the software I was peddling for a previous
employer - that's my theory, although its cost could have bankrupted
them as well ;-)
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