Kayak.com is a third party travel booking site which allows travelers to compare reservation prices not only from different airlines, but from other sites as well, such as FrontierAirlines.com, CheapTickets.com, Expedia.com, Orbitz.com and Priceline.com. Kayak.com is relatively new to the crowd compared to their major competitors, having only been in business since 2006. During that time, they have become a serious contender in finding and assisting travelers in their travel arrangements for flights, hotels and rental cars primarily. They do have package deals available on their main website as well. 

The Good

  • Compare prices
  • Search functionalities
  • Mobile app

Compare Prices

Hotel bookings allow travelers to compare the prices from various sites such as Booking.com and Hotels.com (among others) to see that they are getting the best deals possible. In an attempt to provide travelers with the most reliable results, Kayak.com pulls information from thousands of traveling sites and compiles them in a way that makes it easy to sort through results and book accommodations.

Kayak.com has many features which allow them to define themselves as something different than their top competitors. Some of these include:

  • Ability to search multiple sites (they open in different windows) to find the best price possible
  • Price tracker tool giving travelers an idea of the current trends in prices to their preferred destination
  • Price alert - set up email notifications for your dream destination and receive emails when prices go down
  • Clean website with an easy-to navigate customer interface
  • Terms and conditions are written in everyday English (mostly)
  • Easy to use mobile app (Apple)

Search Functionalities

There are several useful search functionalities on the Kayak website, including the "deals" button. Travelers are able to find affordable airfare and car prices to some of the most popular travel destinations in the country. When looking at hotels, travelers can see the features and ratings that other users had given the hotel. This feature helps users select the best hotels for the most affordable price. Travelers also appreciate the following:

  • Search features organizing travel deals by price.
  • Filtering services by customer rating.
  • Being able to find more affordable deals by finding travel and lodging in suburbs of the destination city.

Mobile App

The Kayak mobile app, which has been downloaded over 40 million times is available on both Apple and Android products. The mobile app allows travelers to essentially search thousands of travel sites all at one time and access mobile-only deals. Travelers can then manage their trip on the go. The mobile app is free and allows for alerts which will notify when a price changes on a flight or hotel.

The Bad

  • Lack of transparency
  • Multiple windows

Lack of Transparency

While Kayak.com has many features which allow travelers to feel confident in their reservations, there are a few holes in their offerings which should be mentioned. These include a lack of transparency for cancellation or changes to travel, customer service agents who are evasive, and the multiple windows which open during comparisons.

  • Nowhere online can be found the change/cancellation policy. This is a concern, since most of the complaints of challenges reported with a discount third party travel site revolve around this very issue. When representatives of Kayak.com were queried about where to find a written copy of this policy so that it could be read before making travel arrangements, they could not or would not provide it to customers.

Multiple Windows

  • This is more of an issue with user friendliness for the site in itself rather than the functionality or availability of this information. Our review team did not care for so many new windows opening in their browsers when comparison shopping and mentioned that opening in new tabs would be a more workable option.

The website does get a little bit cluttered at times. The "Compare Sites vs. Kayak" feature is unnecessary and clutters the browser window unnecessarily. This could be improved by having a button next to the travel options listed after a search.

The Bottom Line

Their web tools are cutting edge. With the sampling of searches which we found, the prices they offered were either identical to or very close to those offered by other sites, especially those with more transparency. Remember discounted travel reservations are rarely able to be altered or canceled, so be very sure about your booking.

Since Kayak.com is a subsidiary of the Priceline Group, we feel that their presence is strong in the market, however we have reservations recommending them fully due to the lack of transparency and availability of customer service.

Using Kayak.com to research your pricing options, the tracking tool and setting up price alerts is a great idea, but you might want to book your travel with another company with more transparency until Kayak.com is more transparent with their policies. Those that use Kayak.com to book their travel arrangements can expect the following:

  1. Fast, Applicable Results - using their filtering options, narrow down thousands of search results to book the trip at the best value
  2. Reserve, search, and book - flights, hotels, rental cars, and vacation packages can all be booked
  3. On-the-go Travelers - travelers can download the app for free and search or manage travel all from their mobile device
  4. Lack of Rewards Plan - do not expect to earn additional rewards for booking through Kayak

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