Consumers made a total of 3.2m online searches for flights last month, and more than 17% of these were made on mobiles, which highlights the need for travel firms to optimise their sites. 

According to stats from Greenlight, ‘Cheap flights’ was the most popular term searched for on Google UK, accounting for 17% of all flight searches, and 20% of all searches made on mobile. 

So are the travel sites ranking for these terms optimising for mobile? Using the term ‘cheap flights’, I’ve been checking the top ten results…

First, some quick stats from the report…

  • Queries for flights to short haul destinations were most popular on laptops/desktops, accounting for a 31% share of overall flight-related searches.
  • Those for long haul destinations dominated on mobile, accounting for 28%.
  • The ten most queried flight-related terms on desktop and mobile were similar, with two exceptions, ‘flights to thailand’ and ‘flights to florida’. The former featured among the top ten searches made on computers but not mobile devices, whilst the latter featured in those via mobile devices but not computers.
  • Skyscanner was the most visible site in the organic listings on mobile and desktop. 

So which sites have optimised for mobile? 

Here is the top ten for ‘cheap flights’:

Cheapflights.co.uk

Perhaps thanks to the exact match domain, Cheapflights wins here. And it has optimised for mobile: 

Nice simple page too, with auto-complete to ease the way for mobile users. 

Skyscanner

No marks for Skyscanner, though it does have an app. And it doesn’t promote it with an annoying pop-up

Ryanair

Did you really think Ryanair would have a mobile site? Of course not…

It’s pretty horrendous to use on mobile, with errors galore, and that post-flight search captcha

lastminute.com 

A good, well-designed mobile site: 

Tripadvisor

I didn’t know Tripadvisor did flight search, but it seems it does…

Netflights

There is a site at m.netflights.com, but it would not load on my mobile. 

Travelsupermarket

No mobile site here, and the desktop version doesn’t look promising for mobile users. 

MoneySavingExpert

Like Travelsupermarket, MSE just isn’t making the most of its high search position. 

ebookers

UX fail from ebookers, which thrusts its app in front of new visitors rather than just letting them browse the mobile site: 

This is a mistake, but also unnecessary, as the mobile site is perfectly usable: 

Fly

Fly is number ten for a very popular term, but no mobile site. 

In summary

So, five out of ten have not optimised for mobile users, though Skyscanner perhaps gets half a mark for at least having a mobile app. 

Based on Greenlight’s figures, the term ‘cheap flights’ accounted for 110,000 searches from mobiles in May alone, so there is clearly an opportunity here for these sites.