PROS / For every flight you book while signed into Orbitz, you'll earn Orbucks rewards to get a further discount on future travel.
CONS / Some customer service contact information is difficult to find.
VERDICT / The Orbitz app, website and rewards program are all tailored perfectly to make travel planning fun and easy, and the prices we got back on our test trips were very reasonable.
Orchestrating an overdue vacation takes a lot more planning than packing sunscreen and a towel. Online travel sites Orbitz wins our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award, because it gives you many ways to mix and match to find the best times, methods of travel and destinations for a fair price.
It's no problem if you want to book a flight, hotel or rental car individually, but Orbitz specializes in combination packages. When you purchase reservations in bundles, it costs less than booking each component individually. The more package deals you purchase, the more rewards you earn for even cheaper travel. This makes Orbitz a great online booking site for frequent flyers or families who need to book at least four tickets for any trip.
Booking & Search
Online travel agencies like Orbitz work directly with hotels, airlines and other businesses in the travel industry to provide bookings for all kinds of flights and accommodations. This results in piles of potential travel options to choose from. The best travel sites provide plenty of filters to narrow your search to the best option, and Orbitz is no exception. Orbitz lets you filter flights by the amount of stops, departure and arrival times, flight class, and flexible days.
The flexible date search is one of our favorite features of Orbitz. Instead of searching for flights on an exact day, flexible search looks for tickets within three days before or after your preferred date. This is a great tool if you're simply looking for a getaway or searching for the best price on reservations months in advance. Each flight listing shows a complete itinerary, including transfer locations, time, terminal and the duration of your layover. If you're planning a long international flight, Orbitz lets you know if you'll be arriving a day or two days later than your departure.
Hotel searches display results based on distance from a city's center by default. However, you can adjust results based on the lowest price, star rating, and reviewer score, to name a few. Hotel results on Orbitz include interior and exterior pictures of the hotel, customer reviews and a quick description of the amenities available. Within the hotel's profile, you'll find a list of nearby points of interest so you can find a hotel nearest to your favorite attractions.
If you aren't flying to a location with plenty of public transportation or shuttle services, you may want to consider renting a car for your stay. When you search for rental cars on Orbitz, you'll see an easy-to-follow grid with dealerships and prices. You can search for rentals based on the car, the price, transmission type, pick-up and drop-off locations, and even features like AC.
If you plan to stay in a hotel and rent a car at your destination, you can purchase package deals that can cost you less than if you booked each one individually. Packages come in different combinations based on your needs. You can book any combination of flights, hotels and rental cars in one fell swoop. If you're a frequent flyer, select your preferred airline and enter your frequent flier number to earn more miles through Orbitz.
Of course, travel isn't limited to landlubbers. You can book cruises online with Orbitz, too. Just like the other travel searches on this website, booking exactly the right cruise only takes a few tweaks on your initial search. Cruise searches are based on destination, with the most popular locations at the top of the list. Orbitz lists cruise destinations all over the globe, not just popular Caribbean cruises. You can choose your preferred cruise line and departure date up to two years in advance. Orbitz can book cruises that last from two to 12 nights, and it lists all ports of call, so you can see where you'll be stopping on your trip. If you have cabin preferences, you can choose from interior, ocean view, balcony and suite rooms at the listed prices.
The Activities section of Orbitz helps you reserve tickets to events you can enjoy once you unpack your bags. This feature is handy for avoiding long ticket lines for big destinations and popular activities. Of course, activities vary from location to location, but most locations offer at least a shuttle or car service option to or from the airport. You can search your destination and the dates you'll be there to find out what's going on in the area. In our research, we found the most popular activities were tickets to Cirque Du Soleil, Disney World and Grand Canyon tours.
Orbitz also lists deals to popular destinations like California, Florida, Las Vegas, Mexico and the Caribbean on the front page. Deals are often for last-minute trips to popular vacation destinations. You can often find last-minute packages up to half off, but the deals usually have a limited list of participating hotels.
Ease of Use
Orbitz has two features that make travel searching easier: predictive searching and calendar-style date selection. Predictive searches save time by completing the name of your destination as you type it. Orbitz provides calendar-style selection for dates so you can see what day of the week you're making your reservations. Ticket prices often change based on the day of the week, so if you don't have a date preference, you can use the flexible date feature.
While searching for reservations, Orbitz lets you compare prices to other travel websites. Once you make your selection, Orbitz guides you through the booking process one step at a time. If you only book a flight, for example, Orbitz offers a chance to book hotels and rental car with your flight reservations.
Like the best online travel sites, Orbitz sends email confirmations as soon as you book your seats, car or room. Within the email confirmation, you'll find all the necessary details about your reservation, such as departure and arrival times, addresses, ports of calls and the price you paid for your tickets.
Orbitz also allows you to view and manage your itineraries in the My Trips portal. You can change flight seats, update alerts or cancel altogether. Unfortunately, it charges a lot for itinerary or cancellation changes, at least $30 for a minimum service fee with additional charges that may apply. You can cancel your trip at any time, but you won't get a complete refund. If you cancel before your departure date, you can apply the amount of your ticket to future domestic travel.
For extra help, you can opt for travel alerts about flight delays, cancellations, gate changes and airport advisories. You can set preferences for these alerts to notify you three to five hours before your departure and even opt for a wakeup call if you have an early morning flight.
Since more people use their phone for tasks that used to be completed on laptops and desktops, we evaluated each travel site's app. We found the iOS or Android mobile app for Orbitz to be excellent and easy to use.
Orbitz has a loyalty rewards program called Orbucks. It is straightforward and user-friendly. One dollar spent equates to one Orbuck, and you can redeem Orbucks instantly. You can save up to 5 percent off hotels, 1 percent off flights and 1 percent off package deals. When you use the app, you'll earn even more points. You can also earn extra Orbucks through referrals or booking family and friends.
Help & Support
Orbitz offers easy methods of support, such as telephone and FAQs, but the company falls short elsewhere. The FAQs are the most reliable type of first-string support, but they're not in an obvious place on the website. Orbitz offers live chat, but it is ridiculously hard to find.
While Orbitz doesn't offer every type of support imaginable, the company makes it easy to send feedback. There is a feedback feature that lets you add suggestions, send praise or alert Orbitz if you have a problem. Each of these feedback options opens to a blank text box so you can talk to Orbitz in your own words.
Though you can't always control every aspect of your vacation, booking through an online travel site like Orbitz gives you the opportunity to customize your travel options. Frequent flyers will benefit from booking with this online travel site because of the rewards points and package deals for flights, cars and hotels. The Orbitz website and app are both so logically organized and easy to use that they take a lot of the hassle out of booking the perfect getaway.