The aviation sector boom in India is reaching its peak. Lot of new domestic and International airlines have sprung up recently in India. The Air travel market is expected to grow at a brisk rate for atleast next decade.
This boom has created a big market for Indian online travel portals. Currently there are 8 to 10 players in the market competing for their pie. As most of them have come up recently they are still fine tuning their search capabilities. These new portals will get better as time goes by.
I carried out a small experiment to see which of these search engines give the lowest airfare for a particular route. Here are some of my findings.
I first tried to search the regular routes like Delhi-Mumbai and Calcutta-Chennai. What I saw was each and every search engine gave nearly the same results. So I decided to take 2nd tier cities. I first took Pune – Cochin, but some of them did not even have cochin listed.
So, finally the route I chose was Pune – Coimbatore round trip from 10th August to 12th August.
IXIGO came across as a fast and real time search. They displayed the results fastest and were updated in real-time. If new results were cheaper they showed up instantly. I thought they were quite user friendly.
Here are top 3 results displayed by them for my query.
The best result of IXIGO: Kingfisher for Rs 13,250.
Update: The rates have changed since yesterday, Today, when I try the same search it shows me Rs. 8346 as the lowest, which is quite impressive.
Travelguru came across as a first generation portal. I would rate it average on user-friendliness, But when I saw the results, I was kind of pleasantly surprised, but at the same time skeptical… I was thrown the rates of Rs. 5626/-, which was like less than half of IXIGO. But after seeing carefully I came to know that they displayed only the rates for Pune-Coimbatore and gave only a tiny link to the Coimbatore-Pune flight, which showed me the rates of return flight. The cost there was 7780/- .
I had to go through a lot of pain of adding both ways. I did not even find a link to go to the booking. I am sure it must be there somewhere, but it was not readily visible. They really need to work on their User Interface.
The best result of TravelGuru: Kingfisher for 13,406.
They had a decent search page too. They showed both the way flights differently with different rates. But I did not have to calculate myself. They showed the lowest fare on top loud and clear.
The best result of ClearTrip: Kingfisher for 13,314.
Ezeego came across as the the true Travel portal. It had a bit of Web2.0 feel and it made me look around for what they had to offer. The parent company for this travel portal is Cox and Kings. I expected them to be more expensive than others, but also knew that they will be the ones who will have very strong back-up support. Having Cox and Kings as a parent definitely helps.
But when I saw their results my Jaw dropped. The least amount that they quoted me was whooping Rs. 24027. I do not want good service to cost me so much. Definitely not !
I went through the whole process again just to check if I had done any mistake. But no the results remained the same.
The best result for Ezeego: Kingfisher for 24027.
At Yatra everything was quite intuitive and the way it should be. The search took a bit of time, but it gave me much better results and that too with different carrier for the first time.
I was really impressed by their search. Here are their results.
The Best result for Yatra: Jet Airways for Rs. 11346/-
Indiatimes Travel had a familiar web1.0 look. Not good not bad either. The search result page came up quickly and gave good results too.
Here is what they had to offer.
The best result for Indiatimes: Kingfisher for Rs. 12736/-
Make My trip
Make my trip did not allow me to use the starting date of 10th August, so I left them alone. They seem to have too much traffic and do not want people booking flight so late.
I got a few errors with Desiya and the results showed me rates in dollars. I guess they cater to people in UK/ US more than India. hence, I decided to exclude them from this experiment.
It is difficult to judge or come to a conclusion based on just one search across multiple sites. However, from this particular experiment, it seems that Yatra has the best search algorithm and found the best deal and that too with a different Airline than all others. That also showed that you got to have tie-ups and partnerships with different carriers to get the best rates. It is obvious because Indiatimes gave me better rates for same Kingfisher flight. The newer search portals are quite user friendly and give you a much better user experience. However, when it comes to rates the older players still rule the roost.
It is also very important to have the best rates because Incredible India portal is putting all these travel portals face to face on their travel search. The one who gives the best rates will take majority of business.
It will be interesting to see how these new players compete with veterans like Indiatimes and Yatra in terms to Air Ticket rates.
Note: I have only compared Flight rates and nothing else. Most of them have discounts if you take their Custom packages.
If I have missed something here, please leave a comment and I will make updates here.