Traveling with the Orbitz iPhone App

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It wasn’t all that long ago that buying a plane ticket was an easy, if considerably more expensive, process. The general lack of choices meant that you called either a travel agent or the airline and hoped that you didn’t get taken too badly. The Internet has largely changed that, and at the forefront of that change is Orbitz and other similar websites. While I may not think of buying a plane ticket while mobile nearly every other product that Orbitz gives you access to, such as car rentals and hotels, makes the app far more useful by allowing you to book while traveling. While the deals at the last minute might not be as good that doesn’t limit the value of deals – they’re still better than paying full price and that makes them well worth checking out.

Orbitz Features (4 out of 5)

Orbitz features

The primary value of the Orbitz website is to get deals on airlines, hotels and cars. This is also available in the iPhone app. You put in the city, the date and any other information you may want, such as preferred airlines and it will bring up the ticket prices. If you do a lot of travel this could be very useful, but for the average person the slow typing speed on the iPhone will mean that you’re likely to simply want to use a computer. This app will also let you find car rentals and hotels in similar ways, though both are considerably more likely to be useful on a trip, as renting a car at the last minute is more likely than a last minute plane flight.

Far more useful on the mobile side is the flight status option. If you know the airline and flight number of your plane you can find out if it is going to be on time, late or even perhaps early. This is very easy to check and gives a lot of value to the mobile side of the app, as the ability to check the flight status while at the airport or on the way to the airport makes a lot of sense. In fact that bumps this up from an average app, in terms of features, to above average.

Buying Tickets and Renting Rooms (3 out of 5)

Renting room orbitz

While there is nothing actually flawed in the buying and renting process of this app there is really nothing special about it either. The mobile advantages are not huge and are cancelled out by the extra difficulties in using a mobile app for browsing and typing. This means that, unless you find yourself needing this type of information when you’re away from home, you’re probably going to prefer to simply use their website which gives you access to a keyboard and more viewing space.

Whether the prices they give you are a good deal is a different question and one that can really only be answered by checking the prices of specific services on other sites. This is another small mark against the app, since on the Internet checking other services is easier.

Ease of Use (3 out of 5)

This app is not really any more difficult to use than the Orbitz website, but it also isn’t really any easier. This means that due to the fact that you are typing on a small screen it becomes more difficult. In addition there are a number of small but frustrating points. These are similar to on the website, but become a bigger issue with the generally slower speeds and more difficult interface of the app.

The most common example is that if you fail to change the end date on a hotel, flight or car it doesn’t simply assume a single night and give you a warning to check it, but instead makes you enter information again. You also have to backup through the entire app to change anything so checking different dates becomes a frustration very quickly. Still, none of these problems really makes it unusable, only less fun.

Flight Status (4 out of 5)

flight status orbitz

The most useful of the mobile app abilities is the flight status. This is something you may want even if you don’t plan to buy anything through Orbitz, though there are likely other apps which do the same thing. This is very simple if you have the correct information. You simply choose the airline from a rolling menu and then add the flight number. If it is on a different day you can change that too, though the information is unlikely to be as valuable. It will then give you the gate, schedule and actual departure and arrival times.

Overview (3 out of 5)

In general there is nothing wrong with this app as it gives you access to the information that you need adequately, but there is also nothing all that special about the app. It doesn’t give you anything you couldn’t get from the website and the interface doesn’t really overcome the difficulty of using your phone. This means that if you have a need for the mobility of this app it will work, but for everyone else the website is simply going to be a better choice.