How to Find Quality Flights
When it comes to booking flights, I'm motivated by price (and flight duration because I have small children). But I'm sure plenty of you care about more than just getting the cheapest flight. You want quality -- legroom, on-time departures and arrivals, baggage that isn't lost.
Now there is a Web site that includes these factors, in addition to price, when you search for flights. InsideTrip.com officially launched May 20 (it's been in a test phase the past two years) and rates airlines on 12 qaulity elements. It partners with Orbitz for the airfare search -- and sends you to the Orbitz site to purchase your tickets. But you'll get more information about flights at InsideTrip.com than other travel search engines.
Here's how it works:
You select a departure and arrival city, travel dates and number of travelers as you would with any other airfare-comparison site. You'll also be prompted to enter how many bags you expect to check in and whether you'll have any beverages on the flight so these fees can be calculated, too -- a cool feature that helps you gauge the true cost of a flight. InsideTrip.com then generates a list of flights based on price and overall trip quality.
It rates flights based on speed -- number of stops, travel duration, on-time performance, "sophisticated analysis of TSA data" to determine security wait time (however, no TSA data was available for the flight I selected); comfort -- legroom, aircraft type and age, load factor; and ease -- connect time, routing quality, lost bags rank, gate location.
You can click on the rating for each flight to get more details about each of these factors -- such as how many stops a flight makes. Or you can create your own score by deselecting factors not important to you in the TripQuality dashboard at the top of the page.
We're still evaluating InsideTrip.com as we prepare the next version of top travel sites story. We have to wonder what kinks took two years to work out in the "testing phase." So test the process at InsideTrip.com, and let us know what you think about this site in the comments box below.