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TripAdvisor adds user reviews of airlines to flight searches

January 12, 2011|By Terry Gardner | Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Screen grab shows ratings of JetBlue Airways by TripAdvisor users.
Screen grab shows ratings of JetBlue Airways by TripAdvisor users. (TripAdvisor )

Wouldn’t it be nice to know how an airline may treat you in advance? TripAdvisor thinks so. On Wednesday, the travel website, best known for its user reviews of hotels, added user reviews to its flight search engine, TripAdvisor Flights.

Jami Counter, senior director of TripAdvisor Flights, said the website has so far collected more than 3,500 airline ratings from travelers, "and we expect it to grow quickly.” Airlines are rated from 1 to 5 "stars" and also by the percentage of travelers who recommend them.

During a flight search, visitors to TripAdvisor can click on a carrier's name to view its ratings. If they sign in as TripAdvisor members, they can also add ratings of their own, on a scale of 1 to 5, in eight categories: baggage handling, check-in experience, in-flight amenities, in-flight service, punctuality, reasonableness of fees, seat comfort and value.

In another addition, Trip Advisor's "Fees Estimator," which previously calculated baggage fees when you booked a flight, now shows them on an initial flight search. It displays the fee to check one bag -- or more bags, if you adjust it. And if you indicate that you have elite status on an airline, which often entitiles you to fly free with two bags, the tool will omit the fee.

The new tools make for useful comparisons.

For instance, when I searched for a March 3-8 round trip between Los Angeles (LAX) and New York City (all airports), TripAdvisor initially showed Delta Air Lines with the lowest fare of $279. When I filtered the search by “One Bag included,” JetBlue Airways, which allows one bag to fly free, came up with the same $279 fare. Because checking one bag with Delta added $46 in fees, its $279 flight would actually cost $325.

I also checked out the two airlines' ratings. In 106 ratings, 97% of travelers recommended JetBlue. Out of 419 ratings, only 76% recommended Delta.

Info: TripAdvisor Flights

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