Millions to become airline reviewers via TripAdvisor

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TripAdvisor, the travel website that many hotels and restaurants fear as it hosts candid opinions from real-world customers, has redesigned its flight search facility to feature in-flight insights, amenities information and candid traveller photos.

“The in-flight experience can vary dramatically from one itinerary to the next, from cramped leg room and no seatback video on one plane to spacious seats and wi-fi access on another – and despite the vast differences – those flights might actually have the same fare,” said Bryan Saltzburg, general manager of TripAdvisor Flights. “The new TripAdvisor Flights experience provides transparency into the complete in-flight experience to enable flyers to make the best booking decision and arrive at their destination with a smile.”

Any form of transparency in the market is generally considered a good thing, but there is a risk that damning reviews may come from very infrequent travellers with no points of reference for their experience. What may be a four-star economy offer could be given a one-star rating if the amateur reviewer has little or no experience of rival products. Similarly an over-excited holidaymaker could give a poor passenger offer a glowing report. On the other hand, if an average of reviews is taken, the score may be representative. Also, candid photos often give a more realistic impression of a cabin than official ‘glamour’ shots.

The new features on TripAdvisor Flights include:

• Details on the in-flight experience: Travellers using TripAdvisor Flights can read about the in-flight amenities on offer before they book, including wi-fi, power ports and inflight entertainment. TripAdvisor also details available legroom, labelled as tight, average or spacious.

• A view inside the aircraft: The product also provides traveller opinions on seat type and pitch, as well as thousands of candid traveller photos from SeatGuru, of airline seats and cabins and seat maps, giving flight shoppers an inside peek at the aircraft before they book.

• Extra legroom available for purchase: The results display now identifies aircraft equipped with extra legroom seats (or aircraft with extra legroom seats for sale in economy class beyond emergency exit row and bulkhead seats).

The site will also continue to offer a Fees Estimator that dynamically calculates the cost of baggage and other amenities into the live display.

Travellers can try out the new features at http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/CheapFlightsHome

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