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.
|Flight Centre is Australia’s largest offline travel agency, owning more than 5,000 physical stores in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and more. In recent years they’ve slowly been improving their online offering to work in tandem with their physical stores with good results. Their online flights offering is quite similar overall, not as feature packed as some of the main competitors, but at the same time is very smooth and easy to use.|
|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.||Their online search support both one-way and return flights, however if you’re looking to book something more complicated like a multi-leg or around-the-world flight, you’re still going to need to call them or go into a store. The search functionality works nicely, allowing you to search for cities, countries and airports, but unfortunately doesn’t allow you to search by state/province or by a particular landmark which some competitors can offer. By default, Flight Centre sorts its flight by placing the Non-stop flights at the top, and then by order of price which is nice. Generally speaking, Flight Centre’s filtering options are fairly basic – there’s no options like sorting by airport, transfer airport, flights with/without baggage included, flights with free cancellation/changes, are many more.. The basic choice like airline and departure time are there though. Their system allows you to book both the outbound and inbound leg of flight at the same time which is probably the most user-friendly, but doesn’t allow you to mix and match whichever flights you want. Finding the change and cancellation conditions on Flight Centre’s website is almost impossible. While it does give you the option to find these, they are displayed in the raw form. In essence this means you need to read through pages and pages of almost non-understandable text to find what is relevant for you. Other OTAs clearly state the charges for changes and cancellation up front. Similarly, the site tells you that baggage is permitted, but doesn’t actually tell you how much in included making it barely useful (this is only the case for some flights, not all).|
|Pricing & Fees||Pricing & Fees|
|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.||Pricing tends to be on the high side, however Flight Centre does offer very good deals from time-to-time, and airlines only deals are also normally visible on their website. While they don’t charge any online booking fee which is important, there is a “merchant fee” depending on which payment method you use. Only PoLi Pay is available without any fees.|
|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.||We generally found Flight Centre’s availability to be fairly poor when it came to non-Australian flights. Also, due to the fact that Fight Centre matches the inbound and outbound legs of your return flight automatically, users don’t also get the same level of choices that they might on other sites.|
|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).||Flight Centre offers a mobile app, mobile website and desktop website, much like most of the competition. The platform however is only available in English, so it’s offerings are very much localized to English-speaking audiences.|
|Payment Methods||Payment Methods|
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.
For flight booking, Flight Centre offers a quite reasonable selection of credit/debit card options, with Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners all accepted. Besides this they also offer PayPal, as well of PoLi Pay for those in Australia. Unfortunately they don’t appear to offer Google Pay or Apple Pay for people who prefer those.
|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.||In Australia at least, Flight Center generally has a fairly good reputation, with real, local customer service representatives who are able to assist when things go wrong.|
|Customer Service||Customer Service|
|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).||Flight Centre prefers communication by phone, so what you’ll find on their website is a series of easy-to-find phone numbers for assistance. They don’t, however, offer any kind of online chat system or email which is somewhat disappointing. This could potentially be an issue is you’re stuck overseas and only have a Wi-Fi connection.|
|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.||If you happen to be in Australia then Flight Centre is a reasonable option worth checking out. While their online offering isn’t amazing, they’re a time-tested brand which isn’t going anywhere quickly. Despite the website being basic compared to the competition we found it somewhat refreshing and easy to use, as long as you already know what you’re looking for.|