Orbitz Orbitz
by ,
4.5 5stars

Orbitz Review

Orbitz
Rating:
Bottom Line:
Intensive and interactive forum for the experienced traveler; low prices are available for those willing to do some digging

Full Review:
Relatively low prices are combined with an impressive number of search options in order to design your ideal vacation. As of September 2015, Orbitz is owned by Expedia. As such, many of the features users have grown to love on Expedia are now offered in a similar way on Orbitz, including the beloved Scratchpad itinerary organizer.


Getting Started

Orbitz has an interface that may overwhelm some users as it is cluttered with offers and ads from the get-go. Travelers can search for hotels, flights, vacation packages, cars, cruises, deals and activities, the last of which was something we found with only a couple of the other travel sites. Part of the appeal of Orbitz is the numerous opportunities to save money with promotions, deals and price reductions based on your means of booking. These deals do require a commitment to each user's traveling habits, though, and can often be misleading for those who are first visiting the site. We recommend that new users take their time reading the terms and conditions of each deal before jumping into any contracts.




Search Filters and Other Features

Orbitz has somewhat basic features, yet they're straightforward and easy to use. For example, when you first search for hotels, you're able to sort by price, guest rating, hotel name, hotel class and recommended. In addition, you can filter the hotels by selecting a specific hotel class, setting a price per night, choosing the neighborhood in which you wish to stay, designating a specific property type (hotel, motel, inn, etc.) as well as picking any other amenities you'd prefer (such as meal plans, high-speed Internet, air conditioning, etc.).

Now that Orbitz is owned by Expedia, users can enjoy Scratchpad, a handy itinerary organizer. Scratchpad essentially allows them to bookmark multiple flight, hotel, car, cruise, package or activity options and saves them to one place. That way, travelers can review their choices once they've sifted through all potential bookings in order to compare and make the best selections.


Price Competitiveness and Packages

We tested three potential trips, each from different airports, origins and destinations. For each of those trips, we tested three separate airlines and travel dates. While this was easy to compare 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 was for trips six months in advance, and the prices were relatively low, considering the cost of a ticket purchased so far in advance can be a bit pricey. We started by checking the prices for two domestic flights, each with different origins and destinations and on different airlines and were generally pleased with the low prices, but noticed that they were rather inconsistent. For example, a flight from Phoenix, Arizona to Miami, Florida on Delta Airlines is offered for $429 through Orbitz. That price was substantially lower than the highest price we found for that flight across the board. Similar cost reductions were found on a flight we searched from San Francisco, California to New York, New York on JetBlue Airlines, offered on Orbitz for $375, although it should be noted that these price cuts may vary with airlines and airports.



The hotel we booked in New York, the Holiday Inn, gave us a higher rate at $269 per night, a price we also found on some of the other well-known travel sites. Renting a compact car came out to $24 per day, which was actually much less expensive in comparison to some of the other travel sites we tested. We concluded that booking six months prior to your departure date through Orbitz offered some of the best prices for rental cards and somewhat pricey options for hotels.

As far as booking an international flight, we chose to search the cost of a trip from Austin, Texas to Rome, Italy. When booking six months ahead, we were extremely pleased with the low price we were offered in comparison to most other sites. The flight by United Airlines topped out at $1,346.

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, as previously mentioned, we found that the price point was rather inconsistent when it came to booking an international flight six weeks ahead of time. The flight we tested from San Francisco, California to New York, New York was offered at $238. We also tested a flight from Phoenix, Arizona to Miami, Florida and were offered price point of $366. Both domestic flights we tested through Orbitz six weeks prior to our potential trip were quite low.

When we went to book a hotel six weeks in advance, the same hotel in New York City was offered to us at a right of $120 per night.

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 $1,856. Again, the prices varied based on the airline we selected. Even if you have a specific airline in mind, we recommend doing a thorough browse of all the offered flights on Orbitz to find the lowest possible price, which will include your preferred amenities. Orbitz will be very helpful as your go-to booking site six weeks in advance.

Booking last minute

Finally, we tested a trip that would theoretically be booked last-minute. 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. Orbitz was the exception to that rule. We were surprised by the reasonable last-minute prices on both domestic flights on a number of airlines. In fact, Orbitz' price for a last minute-flight from Phoenix, Arizona to Miami, Florida was a bit lower than the cost of a ticket purchased six months in advance at $416.

We also tested the same international flight from Austin, Texas to Rome, Italy and found that Orbitz' best offer was a flight priced at $1,469. We were disappointed by this price as it was considerably more expensive than last-minute prices available on other travel sites.

As far as booking a last-minute hotel room, the Comfort Inn in New York had nightly rates available at $99 per night which was extremely low in comparison to some of the other travel sites we tried.


Booking Process

The booking process on Orbitz is fairly standard. Users will enter their preferred destination, as well as the dates of their intended trip, and Orbitz will pull up the best offers available for flights, hotels, cars, activities and cruises. Users can also select a preference on airlines or hotel rating to narrow their options before they begin to search. The service makes sure to make a clear note of important details as users continue through the process of making a reservation. Before entering any payment or personal information, Orbitz provides a price breakdown of the flight or hotel that the user has selected as well as spells out the exact schedule of each flight including any stops it may make along the way to its destination.

At this point, users are also given notice of any baggage fees or availability for passengers to select their seat on the plane. From there, users will follow standard personal and payment information templates until they have confirmed their reservation.



Rewards Program

Orbitz Rewards lets users immediately earn rewards on travel and instantly redeem on hotels. Once you become a member, you will begin earning Orbucks for every qualified purchase you make through the site. Members can rack up thousands of points quickly because one Orbuck equates to one U.S. dollar. Travelers can instantly redeem their Orbucks on tens of thousands of hotels all over the world



The Rewards program sorts travelers into three groups: Silver, Gold and Platinum. Those who are interested can earn Silver status immediately just by signing up for a free online membership. After staying four or more nights in a hotel booked through Orbitz, users are bumped up to Gold. Finally, after booking 12 hotel nights, they will reach Platinum status.

Silver members will have access to exclusive deals and a line dedicated to their customer service needs. In addition to the perks of a Silver membership, Gold members will also get priority access to the customer service line and receive freebies like hotel upgrades, Wi-Fi and free breakfast at specified Orbitz Rewards hotels. Finally, Orbitz Platinum members get all of the aforementioned perks and will also enjoy TSA pre-enrollment as well as the ability to check two bags on Orbtiz' dime and room upgrades at VIP hotels.


Customer Service

The customer support section of the Orbitz site is pretty standard, but leaves a number of questions unanswered. The very top right of the home screen has a tab for Customer Support, where visitors are first encouraged to search through the archive of Frequently Asked Questions, sorted into subcategories including Flights, Hotels, Packages, Attractions, Services, Events, Travel Insurance, Cruise as well as Payment and Orbitz Rewards. Beyond that, users are allowed two options: the first is to chat with a representative from customer service any time Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. CT. Users can also email customer service during the same hours, and Orbitz claims that it will respond to a message within 24 hours, however, our question took about a day and a half to receive a response. That said, it was answered thoroughly.



Conclusion

Orbitz is for the veteran traveler. The key to getting the most out of a site like Orbitz is being able to navigate through its intricate interface without becoming flustered by the number of available options. The prices are decently low, and are even more attractive for those who take advantage of the Orbitz Rewards program. After being taken over by Expedia, Orbitz has certainly improved and made the overall booking experience more organized and manageable.

Compare to Other Travel Sites

If you have a question or concern we haven't answered on our site, please let us know. Your question will be added to the NextAdvisor Forums so that we and other experts in our community can answer it. Due to volume, we aren't able to respond to every question, but we answer as many as we can.



Service Details

Available to Book:Flights, hotels, cars, cruises, vacation packages and activities
Best for:Frequent and experienced travelers
Competitive Pricing*:
Loyalty Program:Yes
Search Filters:
Mobile App:iPhone, Android

*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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