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TripAdvisor Airline Grading

TripAdvisor allows travelers grade carriers

Jan 14, 2011

When you want the scoop on what other travelers think of a hotel -- good or bad -- it's easy to find out from user ratings on websites like

Now, the company is translating that concept to airlines.

The site's flight search engine, TripAdvisor Flights, this week began allowing travelers to grade carriers on a scale of 1 to 5 in eight categories, including in-flight service, seat comfort and punctuality.

The ratings show up when you look for a flight and "mouse over" the airline name. You can also see what percentage of fliers would recommend each airline to others.

For example, JetBlue currently gets 4.5 out of 5, with 97 percent recommending the airline, while Spirit Airlines gets 3 out of 5, with 48 percent recommending the carrier. (JetBlue currently also has about four times as many ratings as Spirit.)

Travelers "will now be able to get useful feedback on how airlines stack up against each other," said Bryan Saltzburg, general manager of TripAdvisor Flights.

How do airlines feel about being graded by the public? Overall, their response has been positive, Saltzburg said.

"Airlines are generally quite interested in getting feedback from travelers on their offerings so they can get a better gauge of how they stack up against the competition," he said.

"We feel the good carriers are the ones who welcome traveler feedback, both positive and negative, and use the information to improve the overall travel experience for fliers."

The company has received more than 3,500 airline ratings from travelers and expects that number to grow quickly, said Justin Drake, a TripAdvisor spokesman. (At this time, the entries are limited to the five-point ratings, so you won't see full text reviews such as those on the hotel portion of the site.)

Travelers can also find out all about the dreaded airline fees. The site automatically displays the cost of your flight, including the cost of one checked bag, at the top of the results page.

A "Fees Estimator" feature allows you to include fees for checked baggage, in-flight entertainment and onboard meals and drinks in your flight search results.

A test drive of the site using a search for a round-trip flight from Boston, Massachusetts, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on February 18 through February 22 found that users can filter the results by lowest price ($342), lowest price with checked bag fee ($374) and the lowest price of flights with the best departure times ($381).

With all the criticism the airlines have received from passengers in recent years for adding fees and providing what many think is less-than-stellar service, you might think travelers may be eager to slam them in the ratings.

But that hasn't been the case -- for now. The grades TripAdvisor Flights has received have skewed positive, with an average of just under four out of five, Saltzburg said.

TripAdvisor allows travelers grade carriers
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Source: CNN

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