Monday, October 22, 2007

Online travel sites

Online travel sites are not the best here in China. The two market leaders, Ctrip and eLong, are okay for booking hotels, but the flight selection is difficult. Most of the time, it's easier just to go to a travel agency in person to buy the ticket and pay in cash. Also, for some technical reasons, local mom-and-pop travel agents can often give you lower prices.

For international flights, I have resorted to using Kayak at times, since it's less complicated than visiting a travel agent to browse flights. Even if I don't purchase the tickets through Kayak, it can at least tell me what flights are available. However, I was using it recently to check out flights from Taipei to Kuala Lumpur (I know it's not a very popular flight segment). Here was one of my suggested itineraries:
Flight Information – Wed 21 Nov 2007
This flight leaves and arrives on different dates.
American Airlines
Flight 7958
Operated by EVA Corporation
Departs: 11:55p
Taoyuan Intl (TPE)

Arrives: 7:40p
Los Angeles (LAX)

Coach Aircraft: 777 11h 45m

[ Layover in Los Angeles, CA (LAX) for 16h 05m ]
American Airlines
Flight 169
Departs: 11:45a
Los Angeles (LAX)

Arrives: 4:40p
Narita (NRT)

Coach Aircraft: 777 11h 55m

[ Layover in Tokyo, Japan (NRT) for 21h 00m ]
American Airlines
Flight 5838
Operated by Japan Airlines
Departs: 1:40p
Narita (NRT)

Arrives: 8:20p
Kuala Lumpur Intl (KUL)

Coach Aircraft: 767 7h 40m

AirfareTaxes & Fees Total Cost

American Airlines $2125.00$81.30$2206.30select

I'll do the math for you: 68 hours and 25 minutes to travel 2000 miles. That's an average of 29 miles per hour. I could probably rent a speedboat and get there faster. Surprisingly, it's also slower than the Taipei-Hong Kong-Shanghai route. Needless to say, I think I'll look elsewhere for a ticket.

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