{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.

No_results

That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.

Logo_distressed

Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

Having paid a reported $1.8m just for the domain name, TravelZoo has launched a comparison site for airline tickets, Fly.com, this week.

Providing an excellent user experience on travel websites is vital, given the complexity of the product on offer in terms of different flight options and the quantity of results, so how does Fly.com measure up?

Fly.com homepage

Homepage

The Fly.com homepage provides a clean and simple interface on a white background, with no distractions for users. Perhaps it should have some featured deals or suggested searches on the page, but this method makes it easy to understand what the site is all about and what users need to do.

Recent searches are remembered on the page, which is a useful feature, and there is a brief summary of what the site does, but the rest is all about the search function.

Flight search

This is nice and simple, providing enough options to allow users to specify what they want, without so many options that the search tool becomes too complicated to understand:

Fly.com flight search

No room for confusion here, and there are some useful options to make searches for flights a little bit more relevant, such as the ability to prefer non-stop flights, and to select a preferred time slot for flight departures:

Fly.com time slots

Destinations may be tricky to spell, or users may not know the names of the particular airport they want to fly to in their destination city, so a little help is essential here to avoid errors in the search process, and the annoyance of seeing a 'no results found' page, as well as saving users the effort of typing in log place names.

Fly.com has an auto-suggest feature which provides suggestions for destinations as people start to type in the search boxes, and what's more, it works well, suggesting a mix of airport and city names, and providing national flags as a handy visual aid:

Fly.com auto-suggest

Results pages

A number of travel sites can be slow in loading up search results, and while users may tolerate a small delay on such sites, it's important not to make people wait too long to see search results. Fortunately, Fly.com provides results quickly - within five to ten seconds for the searches I tried out, which isn't bad at all.

As well as showing results on Fly.com, users are also offered the option of seeing results for the same search on Vayama.com, which opens up in a new browser window. I'm not sure about this, as it could be confusing for some users, and also encourages them to leave the main Fly.com site.

Why not just provide all results on Fly.com, which is what travel search engines are supposed to do?

The results on Fly.com are well presented and generally clear to understand, giving three different display options, with the defaults being this summary, which shows the range of prices on offer:

Fly.com search results

Clicking on one of the options gives you results for one of the airlines in more detail, though you can see all airlines at once in this format:


The range of options for viewing the results is impressive, and provides ways to compare results from the same departure airport, the same airline, and more.

Sorting options

Flight searches will often return 100+ results, so giving users the tools to narrow down the options and choose the flight that suits them best is vital, and Fly.com provides some good filtering and sorting options to make more sense of search results.

Fly.com refine search

A range of check boxes and slider tools provide ways to narrow down the search and eliminate irrelevant results, with nine different filtering options, including price range, take-off time, airline, and flight duration, as well as price.

More importantly, results are refreshed and updated quickly after selecting each sorting option, and filters can be removed as easily as they are added.

Problems

The site functioned smoothly and avoided most of the obvious usability errors common on travel sites, though I found that some prices were out of date once I clicked through to the airline site to start the booking process, sometimes they were even cheaper.

Also, the results are displayed in US dollars when I really want to see prices in GBP. I can change this but it means having to scroll down to the very bottom of the filtering options. It also defaults back to dollars for every new search. Fly.com should either remember this preference or detect where users are coming from and show them the appropriate currency.

Conclusion

Having looked at a few flight search engines, including Skyscanner and nowfly.co.uk, I am impressed by the usability of Fly.com, especially given the fact that it is in beta at the moment.

As we covered in our Travel Website Benchmarks report in 2007, there are a number of potential pitfalls when creating travel sites and displaying complex information in a way that is easy for the user to understand, and Fly.com avoids these traps well, providing a very good user experience.

Graham Charlton

Published 16 February, 2009 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (6)

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Avatar-blank-50x50

David

Fly.com definately does a lot of things well, but when it comes to price they don't really measure up - www.dohop.com does everything they do, just faster and around 50% cheaper on most of the routes I looked at.

over 7 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Richard

Pretty fair and decent analysis, this space is now crowded and tbh, there isn't much to choose between kayak.co.uk, skyscanner.co.uk, dohop etc.  It would have been really interesting to have seen how you'd compare them.

over 7 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Carol Cork

Good analysis of a sector where there are so many similar models. More challenging is the private jet travel sector, where price comparison is a new game. PrivateFly.com has been launched to simplify private jet charter, get instant and accurate quotes and apply online travel logic to a previously traditional and largely offline sector. You can even buy online if you like, ecommerce for private jets!

over 7 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

m.sadeghzadeh

fly.com does not respond to customers email regarding their FlexiFly rebooking service and then claims that the customer has not fulfilled the condition of contract. It is based outside of UK and not member of any association which customers in UK can contact regarding the miss-sealing by fly.com

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Ben

This is a fantastic review of fly.com. I've just taken a look at the site and the first thing that has stuck out in my mind is: its simple to use Google like search home page. More to the point I did a couple of searches and found at least 8 airlines offering competitive deals. It's great to see an online airline ticket website that works really well!

almost 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Paul

It seems that the Fly.com website has been redesigned since this article was published - it still looks really user friendly and it has such a clean design on the home page. It's uncluttered and simple, which will really help usability.

over 3 years ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.