TripAdvisor adds airline ratings to flight search

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TripAdvisor, the giant of user reviews, keeps inventing ways to wring value from its supersize community. The site first moved into the world of airfare meta-search in 2009, but today it announced a feature that helps it stand out from the pack:

This being TripAdvisor, you now get to see how other travelers have rated the airline on eight measures, such as baggage handling, check-in experience, punctuality, and seat comfort. Users can give ratings (but not full reviews yet) by logging in through Facebook or their own TripAdvisor account.

A fees estimator is also another first-of-its-kind perk. Search for flights on TripAdvisor, and you'll see results that account for fees for checking one bag—letting you see the total price up-front in the results. Click on the price including a bag fee to refine the results further. Tell the site how many bags each passenger is checking and whether any passenger has status in a frequent flyer program that might waive fees. The results will be re-calculated to your exact situation.

TripAdvisor is clearly continuing to innovate. No wonder the site was awarded a Budget Travel Reader's Choice Award (favorite site for hotel reviews) and an Budget Travel Extra Mile Award in 2010.

What will be next? Prominently displayed user reviews of airports and entertainment? Reviews and ratings of rental car services? We're eager to find out.


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