Kayak.com is a relatively new travel meta-search engine which searches over 120 travel sites including all the major airline sites except Southwest, many hotel chain sites as well as travel booking sites like Orbitz and CheapTickets. It includes a lot of sites you might not think of searching like AsiaRooms.com or Wegolo.com which specializes in European budget airlines. Kayak is purely a search engine like Google – it doesn’t do bookings. You search for the lowest fare or for a hotel or car rental and then follow a link to a third party site like aircanada.com to actually book you travel. I really like the full web version of Kayak. I usually search there first as I’ve found that it consistently finds better deals on airfare and hotels than Travelocity, Orbitz or Expedia.
Kayak Mobile emphasises simplicity. The interface is very straight-forward and easy to use partly because you can only search for flights departing today and rooms for tonight. Which is actually a good idea for a mobile travel site, especially in the US where almost everyone has access to a computer. If I’m planning a trip tomorrow or next week I’ll do it online on my computer not on my phone. But if I’m already traveling and my flight is cancelled or my plans change I’d be very likely to want to use my mobile to find a flight or room for today.
I wanted to like KayakMobile as the concept of limiting choices in a mobile web app is a good one and I really do like Kayak.com on the web. The flight search seems to like it would be the most useful especially for the road warrior whose plans are always changing. Just punch in your departure and arrival airport codes and click the search button and you should get a list showing price, departure time, airline and a click to call airline booking number.
Kayak worked reasonably well for me. There’s a lot of flexibility in how you can enter departure and arrival points; airport code, US zip-code or city with or without state or country. If you enter something ambiguous, Kayak will prompt you with a short list of choices. Still, it is a beta and there were several areas that need work. The biggest one is that the phone numbers aren’t clickable! That means that on the 90% of phones that don’t have cut and paste you have to memorize or write the number down, exit the browser and dial. Most phones support the wtai: uri standard for click to call – why not use it? There are also some issues with international support. When I searched for flights from Asian departure points I got the error “Please enter a valid departure date” but of course there is no way to enter a departure date as all searches are for today only. I imagine that the problem is that it’s already tomorrow in the Far East and Kayak is using a US date and time instead the current date and time at the departure airport. Interestingly, the hotel search doesn’t have this problem with Asian cities. Another area that needs improvement is that in over half the air searches I tried, I got “No flights available”. I can understand that all flights today may be fully booked. But in that case why not show the next available flight even if it is tomorrow?
You can also search for restaurants and check the weather at your destination. I didn’t find the restaurant search very useful. If I entered a specific zip-code (you can’t enter an address) it seemed to start searching from the city center rather from the zip-code I entered. Although you can filter the results by cuisine there are no reviews or any indication of price range. The weather feature does work well giving detailed information on current conditions
I learned about KayakMobile from Cameron Moll at Authentic Boredom who did an extensive writeup on it with lots of screenshots.
Kayak Mobile has been added to theYesWAP.com mobile portal under Travel-Transit/Air Travel
Kayak Mobile: cHtml
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