Expedia Flights Review
Ease of Use>
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 button 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.