Expedia Expedia
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5 5stars

Expedia Review

Book Now with Expedia
Rating:
Bottom Line:
Bright, inviting interface offers users a pleasant experience and options for a tailor-made vacation; features some of the lowest prices available for flights and hotels

Full Review:
Expedia, one of the most well-known travel sites, offers users the lowest prices on flights, hotels and car rentals. It has also mastered the travel bundle, giving travelers the chance to make reservations all at once and save money.


Getting Started

Expedia welcomes users to its home page with an extremely clear range of options. Tabs at the top of the page include: Home, Bundle Deals, Hotels, Flights, Cruises, Things to Do, Deals, Rewards and Mobile. Travelers can choose an option and type in the airport or general destination they'll be flying to as well as whichever city they'll be staying in. Daily Deals are featured towards the bottom of the page, with some reaching up to 40% off hotels and flights. Expedia will pull up the recommended hotels in the area you've specified as well as the top local destinations.

Expedia also allows you to set certain filters for each search. For example, you can select "pet-friendly," "budget" and "romantic" for hotel options. The filters differ based on what you're looking to book — the hotel filters are not the same as the cruises filters.


On the top right of the home page, users will find an option called My Scratchpad, where the details of their trip will be recorded as they plan. We found this option to be extremely useful. Many times, travelers will need to weigh a number of combinations of flights and hotels, and My Scratchpad is a great way to go back and review each of the previously visited options in order to make a comprehensive final decision.


Search Filters and Other Features

The search filters available on Expedia were somewhat basic, although they were clear and easy to navigate. Users can filter by price, guest rating, star rating or package discounts. It did, however, have a few extra features that led us to favor the site above some others. For example, not all travel and booking sites allow users to search for things to do in the area that they're traveling to. Expedia has a tab that makes suggestions for fun activities for everyone based on your designated location.

New to Expedia is the "HomeAway" tab, located alongside each of the other main categories on the home page. HomeAway allows travelers to book vacation rentals for a more personalized, at-home experience. Just like booking a regular hotel, users will enter their destination, travel dates and the number of guests. Next, they can filter the list of properties by number of bedrooms, type of home, number of bathrooms, type of location or amenities like access to a pool or pet-friendly properties. Once they've found the perfect rental home, users can contact the property owner or manager to request their stay, settle the rate per night and pay securely using the HomeAway Payment tool. All homes listed on HomeAway have been verified by the site. The prices for a HomeAway rental will vary based on the type of home you choose to book as well as the owner, so there's no accurate comparison we can make to the prices you'd find with a hotel. However, we think that HomeAway is an excellent addition to Expedia, offering a wide range of prices and types of homes for those who want a more intimate lodging option.

Also, as previously mentioned, the Scratchpad feature is a fantastic organizational tool. Expedia recognizes that planning a trip or vacation can be a tedious process and often involves a lot of small details and moving pieces. Scratchpad is essentially a list of all the flights, hotels, cars and destination activities you've previously viewed so that you can come back to them later on or compare two deals side by side.


Price Competitiveness and Packages

We tested three potential trips (two domestic and one International) from different airports and destinations. For each of the tests we looked at the prices for the same flight and hotel — that way we could accurately compare the prices and spot any changes.

The prices we found on Expedia for both flights and hotels were the lowest of all the travel services we reviewed; some domestic flights were as much as $100 lower than other top-rated sites. While it was easy to compare both flight and hotel prices for domestic trips, it was rather challenging for international, as not all travel sites allow you to book with the same hotels. As such, we weren't able to successfully compare the pricing for international hotels.

Booking six months in advance

Our first search tested trips being booked six months in advance, and the prices we were presented with were quite low. We started by checking the prices for two domestic flights, each with different origins and destinations and on different airlines and were impressed with the low prices. For example, a round-trip flight from Phoenix, Arizona to Miami, Florida on Delta Airlines is offered for $530 through Expedia. That price was marginally lower than the highest price we found for that flight across the board. Similar cost reductions were found on a round-trip flight we searched from San Francisco, California to New York, New York on JetBlue Airlines, offered on Expedia for $513.

The hotel we booked in New York, the Comfort Inn, gave us a spectacular rate of $112 per night. Renting a compact car came out to $43 per day, which was actually somewhat more expensive in comparison to some of the other travel sites we tested. We concluded that booking six months prior to your departure date through Expedia didn't offer the best prices for car rentals, and we didn't notice a significant discount in the prices on flights and hotels, so if you do choose to use Expedia for a domestic trip, you may want to wait to book until a bit closer to your intended travel date.

As far as booking an international flight, we chose to search the cost of a round-trip flight from Austin, Texas to Rome, Italy. When booking six months ahead, we were very pleased with the low price we were offered in comparison to most other sites. The flight by United Airlines topped out at $1,443, only a bit higher than the price of booking the recommended six weeks ahead, which was offered at $1,344. We concluded that international flight prices on Expedia were some of the lowest around regardless of the time of purchase.

Booking six weeks in advance

The next trips we tested were about six weeks in advance. Normally, this is said to be the best time to purchase airline tickets, as they'll be cheapest around that time. On average, the domestic flights we tested produced very low rates, but we found that the price point on other flights was rather inconsistent from airline to airline, so users should be wary of their options. The first flight we tested was from San Francisco, California to New York, New York, and was offered for $218 which was quite low in comparison to some other sites we looked at. We also tested a flight from Phoenix, Arizona to Miami, Florida six weeks ahead of time and were given a similarly low price point of $366.

The price of booking an international flight six weeks in advance was decent — we found a round-trip flight from Austin, Texas to Rome, Italy for only $1,344. Again, we noticed that the prices offered from other airlines fluctuated. Even if you have a specific airline in mind, we recommend doing a thorough browse of all the offered flights on Expedia to find the lowest possible price, which will include your preferred amenities. Expedia will be very helpful as your go-to booking site six weeks in advance.

When we went to book a hotel six weeks in advance, the same hotel in New York City was offered to us at a rate of $118 per night, a bit higher than the price we got booking six months ahead of time.

Booking last minute

Finally, we tested a trip that would theoretically be booked last-minute. For our purposes, we defined "last-minute" as one week before the day of departure. As a general rule of thumb, this is not recommended unless absolutely necessary, as the cost is usually much higher than you would pay a few weeks or months prior to your travel dates. Expedia was no exception to that rule, but we were surprised by the reasonable last-minute prices on both domestic and international flights on a number of airlines. A last-minute flight from San Francisco, California to New York, New York was available for as low as $544 and an International flight from Austin, Texas to Rome, Italy for $983.

As far as booking a package, Expedia may be the best site regardless of when you're booking. The bundle is a concept that the company has perfected in its years of service and allows users to save a significant amount of money when they purchase travel tickets together. We tested a bundle that included a flight, car and hotel for one week and were given a final price point of $1,947, while the price would have been $3,385 had we purchased each reservation separately.

Booking a hotel at the last minute is generally advisable, as hotels often lower their rates in order to avoid having empty rooms. When we tested a last-minute booking at the Comfort Inn in New York, we were offered a quote of $118 per night, which is a fantastic rate for a last-minute reservation, but oddly, a tad higher than the price we were offered while booking six months prior.


Booking Process

The booking process on Expedia is laid out clearly from the moment you enter the site. The home page features all of the search services it offers, even underscoring the booking packages or "bundles." Once you've decided what service you require — be it a flight, hotel, rental car, cruise, activity or some combination of the five, you can book directly from Expedia. If you're booking a flight, the options for your departing and returning flights will be on separate pages, unlike some other travel sites that will lump the two together at first glance.


One of the aspects of this site we particularly enjoyed was the fact that there were very few pop-ups. Often, while using a travel site, you'll either be bombarded with offers and ads, or redirected to a new booking page entirely. With Expedia, you can get straight to the point and purchase the items you need without the hassle.


Rewards Program

Expedia has an extensive rewards plan called Expedia+. As a member, you'll have access to a program called "Unreal Deals." Here's how it works: as you travel, you'll elevate your member status and benefits over the course of a year. Free membership automatically gives you +blue status, which allows travelers to earn points that can be used for hotels, flights and activities on your next trip. +blue is followed by +silver status once you've spent $5,000 on eligible bookings or stayed in seven qualifying hotel room nights and offers users exclusive travel offers and VIP booking access for hotel bookings. Finally, users who earn +gold status after spending $10,000 on eligible bookings or staying in 15 qualifying hotel room nights will get free amenities and discounts at VIP hotels, customer service agent access and hotel upgrades when available.

Those who are signed up with Expedia+ and Expedia+ Business are able to earn points whenever they book that can go towards purchasing later flights, hotels, packages and activities. Another option for Expedia+ members is to use their points to donate to St. Jude Children's Hospital.



Customer Service

Expedia's customer service section was different from those we'd seen on other sites. By clicking Support on the top right of the home page and selecting Customer Service from the dropdown menu, you'll arrive at a customer service portal with a button for "Contact Us". Expedia offers personalized support by first asking you to choose a topic. You'll choose between Trip Help, Hotels, Flights, Bundle Deals, Cars, Cruises, Things to Do, Expedia Rewards, Other, Your Experience and Travel Alerts. From there, the table will ask you to select a subcategory of the type of problem you need help addressing. For example, if you've selected "Hotels," you can answer the question "What can we help you with?" by choosing from options like Check-in and Check-out or Payment and Receipt. Once you've chosen the qualifications for your question, Expedia pulls up a number of answers to frequently asked questions.

Finally, if your question has still not been addressed, you can get in contact with a representative. You'll be asked to enter your name, phone number and itinerary number and will be contacted in less than five minutes. When we contacted the support line with a question about flight cancellations, we received a call back in three minutes from a friendly representative who answered our question efficiently.

One thing that we did find odd about Expedia's customer support section was that there were no hours of availability listed within the support tab. We later found out from an external source that the lines are open 24/7.


Conclusion

Expedia is held to a high standard, as it's one of the most widely recognized travel and booking sites. When we tested it critically, Expedia held up its end of the bargain. The prices we found for the multiple flights we searched were very low in comparison to the other prices available throughout the web. The customer service representatives are extremely accessible and helpful in answering any and all questions as they arise. We'd recommend Expedia to just about anyone planning a trip as it's efficient, easy to use and has endless suggestions to plan your perfect vacation.

Book Now with Expedia | Compare to Other Travel Sites

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Service Details

Available to Book:Flights, hotels, cars, cruises, vacation packages and activities
Best for:Families or vacationers with a departure date at least six weeks away
Competitive Pricing*:
Loyalty Program:Yes
Search Filters:
Mobile App:iPhone, Android, Windows

*These ratings are based on the prices we received when testing both domestic and international trips (see Price Competitiveness and Packages section of the review for more details)

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