I’ve traveled a good bit in my day; I’ve been to some 20-odd countries, 4 continents, you know, the works. And if there’s one thing that I hate more than airports, it’s booking travel online.
The problem is this: my goal is not to book flights at specific airlines, at specific airports, with specific ticket classes — it’s to book a trip. Trips have different goals. For example:
“I want to visit Albany and New York City next week. I have to be in Albany on these days; NYC is flexible.”
“I want to go to central London next week, and need to be there for at least 3 days.”
I don’t care about the details. I want to know:
- What are the options?
- How much do they cost?
- How long do they take?
I don’t want to have to know that Airport X is actually 30 miles from London, so I’m going to have to get a bus that costs me another £30 and takes an hour. That should be worked into the equation. I don’t care that renting cars is twice as expensive in Manhatten as it is upstate. If it turns out that a high-speed train is almost as fast as a plane, I want to know that.
See, travel sites create the illusion of providing the information that I cite above, which is what makes them so infuriating. In practice, it almost invariably takes me several hours of looking at options just to figure out how I effectively can get from point A to point B, and what the costs and logistics involved will be.
In my dream world:
Here’s how it works in my dream world: I pick two places on a map, just like I do on Google Maps, and I get back options for how to get from point A to point B, with all variable covered. I get nearly exact amounts of time, total costs and when I can get started. I can chose to optimize for speed, comfort or price.