Reviewing the most popular online travel agencies

Reviewing the most popular online travel agencies

    Here at Jack’s Flight Club, we’re always on the lookout for awesome flight deals. Airline sales and Black Friday promos are great, but sometimes, it’s the discounts you get through online travel agencies (OTAs) on Skyscanner or Momondo that really get us excited. 

    The thing is, JFC members often tell us that they’d rather pay more to book directly with an airline and avoid the risk of getting scammed. After all, how do we know that Skyscanner is legit? Our article on OTA safety explains how these flight aggregators work and what you need to keep in mind when using them.

    In short - Skyscanner and Momondo are genuine companies, and using them to find cheap fares won’t put you at risk. It’s actually the OTAs they redirect you to that you need to be savvy about. That’s where this article comes in. So, now we’re going to take a deep dive into how individual online travel agents stack up against each other. 

    The OTAs listed here are a selection of the best-known names and the ones that appear most frequently in our deals. We’ll weigh in with stories from experienced JFC members and colleagues (watch out, eDreams), as well as taking a good look at consumer reviews and ratings on popular platforms like Trustpilot and TripAdvisor. 

    But firstly, we’re going to examine how the OTA aggregators we use every day - Skyscanner and Momondo - rate the companies they advertise. So, is there actually any quality control, or do we have to rely on articles like this to tell us what’s up?

    Quick reference

    1. Do Skyscanner and Momondo rate their OTAs?
    2. How do other websites rate OTAs?
    3. eDreams
    5. Opodo
    7. GotoGate
    8. Expedia
    9. / Bravofly
    10. TravelUp
    11. CrystalTravel
    12. Final thoughts

    Do Skyscanner and Momondo rate their OTAs?

    In short - yes. Skyscanner reviews seem more transparent than Momondo’s, but both have a quality control system in place.

    When someone makes a booking through Skyscanner, they’re invited to leave feedback and rate their booking. When you’re redirected to the OTA on Skyscanner, a short survey will appear asking you to give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on your experience.

    The data collected here all goes towards the star ratings Skyscanner gives its OTAs - you’ll see them when you click on a Skyscanner search result. 

    Skyscanner reviews the feedback weekly and only takes into account feedback from the last three months. On one hand, it’s good to know you’re seeing up-to-date information reflecting recent experiences. On the other, a load of complaints 4 months ago might still put you off if you knew about them.

    Their rating is based on:

    • accuracy of the prices you see in search results, 
    • clarity about extra fees (for bags, insurance, etc.),
    • how good the OTA’s customer service is, 
    • how easy the booking process is,
    • and any other feedback they receive.

    One of the main issues we find with the Skyscanner rating system is that you can’t read the feedback or reviews left for individual OTAs. There’s also no way of searching through all the OTAs they work with to check for the Skyscanner rating, so it all depends on which ones show up for the route you search.

    Momondo are even less up front with their ratings - in fact, they don’t really rate them at all. Well-reviewed OTAs get a little medal symbol next to their names on the results page, with a pop-up box showing the areas they’re particularly good in. 

    Unfortunately, even that doesn’t happen across all domains - displays very few approval medals for OTAs in comparison to the European domains. For the purposes of this article, we’ll use the approvals on

    Both Skyscanner and Momondo let you sort results by cheapest, fastest, and best. While Skyscanner’s “best” category is decided by a combination of price and flight time, Momondo reviews sometimes factor into what shows up under “Best”- and apparently, so might the commission they receive from sales via that OTA.

    As part of a wider umbrella of companies that includes familiar names like, kayak and, Momondo also uses ratings and reviews gathered from its partner sites. While that’s no biggie on the face of it, their little medal symbols may have been awarded based on a completely different booking experience.

    How do other websites rate OTAs?

    Consumer review sites like Trustpilot let anyone leave a review of their experience with a company. All you have to do is give the business a star rating out of 5 and leave a comment in the box below. Trustpilot balances its ratings to ensure the fairest score possible, giving priority to the most recent experiences.

    The downside of these sites is that it’s hard to know if reviews are genuine, plus people are far more likely to leave a review if they are unhappy. The best way to get an overall picture is to check sites similar to Trustpilot, like sitejabber, or consumer review sites like Which?. Otherwise, you may find yourself spending hours trawling travel forums on TripAdvisor or Quora. Good news is, we’ve done it for you!

    And that brings us to the juicy bit - our online travel agency reviews.


    What we’ve heard: Our members have a LOT to say about eDreams, and we keep hearing the same complaint over and over again - hidden fees.

    One member told us that after making his booking, he noticed an extra charge from eDreams on his bank statement. After some back and forth with eDreams’ customer service, he discovered they’d subscribed him to their prime membership without his permission. As compensation, he was offered a €20 discount off his next booking with them, but they completely ignored his refund requests until he threatened to open a fraud case via his bank.

    Another member had a similar situation, where eDreams claimed the extra cash they charged her was for luggage fees, and she too was refused a refund. Someone else had an even weirder issue, when the company booked them on the wrong flight with the airline and refused to fix it. They claimed that his booking was for the flight he’d selected, and he’d have to pay again to change to the flight he originally wanted.

    These stories are no exception - TripAdvisor is full of threads dedicated to slating eDreams for poor customer service, extra fees, and unexplained cancellations. As one unsatisfied customer put it on Yelp, “One could get more service out of a bunch of penguin juggling monkeys than eDreams”.

    What Skyscanner says: Skyscanner rates eDreams at 2/5 stars based on over 10.5k reviews. Since two of their main criteria are customer service and fees, we think we can work out why.

    What Momondo says: Unexpectedly, Momondo gives eDreams the seal of approval. Either Momondo customers have been really lucky, or the search engine is just a bit out of touch, since they mention eDreams’ reliable pricing and good customer service.

    What Trustpilot says: currently has a Trustpilot rating of 3.6/5 stars, though it’s worth noting that the majority of reviews there either leave a 5-star or 1-star rating. Another important point here is that many regional websites have a different rating, for example the Spanish website (where they’re based) only gets 2.1 stars, while Germany gets 3.5.

    A common theme among the Trustpilot reviews is eDreams not refunding customers after their flight has been cancelled. Several people mention struggling to get through to customer service and waiting for months without any sign of getting their cash back. 

    On the other hand, it is worth mentioning that there are more positive eDreams reviews on Trustpilot than negative. Several 5-star reviews say they got great customer service and had their problems resolved quickly.

    Our verdict: Honestly, they wouldn’t be our first choice. Even when eDreams comes up cheapest, we’d hesitate due to the risk of being booked on the wrong flights or being hit with hidden fees like our members.

    What we’ve heard: One Quora thread describes as “legal scammers”, using loopholes and fine print to take advantage of customers. Multiple posters mention that they’ve been denied a refund for cancelled flights purchased through Kiwi, then being told by their customer service that buying a new flight is the only option.

    We also came across stories of being issued fake tickets for cheap connecting flights. When the unsuspecting passenger arrived at the airport, they were told their name wasn’t even on the flight. Even if you put this down to human error on Kiwi’s side, you’d expect the passenger to have received a full refund instead of the 60% they actually got.

    With that in mind, you can’t blame us for being a little sceptical when we read about Kiwi’s recent dispute with Ryanair, who accused them of issuing fake boarding passes. Kiwi claimed that there’s “no such thing as a fake boarding pass”, stating that Ryanair were just grumpy with them for selling their tickets for less than they cost on the Ryanair website. Either way, it’s not a good look.

    Those are just the highlights. We found a lot more like that, including countless articles about families losing out on thousands of dollars due to Kiwi bookings falling through.

    What Skyscanner says: With over 23.5k reviews on Skyscanner, the surprising 3.5/5-star rating is pretty decent. 


    That means most people leaving a review on Skyscanner find that the fares they’re quoted match what they end up paying, and any extra fees are clear. Customer service experiences may have been alright as well, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been problems - it just means that they’ve been resolved.

    What Momondo says: Once again, we can’t really get more from Momondo than what you see in the image below. They’ve awarded Kiwi a medal, and state that their customers have confirmed reliable pricing and good customer service.

    What Trustpilot says: At just 1.7 stars out of 5, Kiwi reviews on Trustpilot look a lot more like what you’d expect after the horror stories we’ve seen.

    The most common complaints are problems getting through to customer service agents (and not just a bot), and refunds taking ages - sometimes years - or not being honoured in full. 

    You’ll also find more stories about the cancellation of a single flight in a multi-leg journey that ruined a whole trip. Because Kiwi is the airline’s customer, the airline contacts Kiwi to notify them of the change, rather than letting the passenger themselves know directly. 

    Several people report that this information wasn’t passed on to them, and are then forced to pay excessive prices for a last-minute alternative. In the situations where they were notified about the cancellation, Kiwi had already requested a refund for that leg from the airline, instead of giving the customer the option to reschedule directly with the airline. That leaves the customer having no choice but to book a replacement flight (again, for crazy money) through Kiwi. 

    On the other hand, like with eDreams, there are a few really positive reviews on there too. People who have genuinely had no problems and say they’re glad they didn’t read all the negative reviews before booking.

    Our verdict: Generally speaking, people are much more likely to leave reviews when they’re angry than when things go well, which could explain the difference in rating between Trustpilot and Skyscanner. 

    That said, you could be taking a chance by going with Kiwi - especially if you’re booking an expensive multi-leg trip for the whole family. This seems like a prime example of why paying more to book directly with the airline is worth it for security alone. 


    What we’ve heard: Back in 2011, Opodo was bought out by eDreams, which kind of sets the tone for us. On top of that, Which? rates Opodo among the worst flight booking sites out there. 

    News websites are full of headlines complaining about Opodo ignoring customers following flight cancellations, passengers being booked on the wrong flights, and huge fees to make changes or cancellations.

    Like eDreams, we’ve heard of customers automatically being signed up for a Prime subscription without consent. Given that we rarely see Opodo coming up as the cheapest OTA, we can’t imagine choosing to tie yourself to their services would ever be worth it.

    TripAdvisor’s forums are not so full of brutal Opodo reviews, though there are still enough to make you think twice. These mostly relate to long waiting periods for refunds after flights that were cancelled due to the pandemic, which shouldn’t be so surprising, really.

    What Skyscanner says: Skyscanner gives Opodo a very average 3/5 stars. That figures, given that most complaints we’ve seen relate to airline cancellation issues and fees for reimbursement. What else can we really expect from a third-party company who makes money by doing the legwork for us (or not)? 

    Based on many Opodo reviews that we found on Trustpilot (more on that below), we can actually believe that their customer service isn’t all bad. It seems likely that customer ratings here were either really positive or really negative, landing them firmly in the middle.

    What Momondo says: Surprise, surprise, Momondo think Opodo are alright too, with another award for reliable pricing and good customer service. We kind of believe it this time, though!

    What Trustpilot says: For the first time here, Trustpilot and Skyscanner are in agreement with a matching 3/5 star rating. But reading through the comments is a bit of a rollercoaster ride, to be honest.

    There are very few average Opodo reviews, with most either leaving a damning one star or a congratulatory five stars. The most common complaints include charging customers for flights without sending confirmation emails, and applying large service fees when issuing refunds.

    On the other hand, the numerous 5-star reviews sing the praises of customer service staff, saying problems were solved efficiently, and the agents were very friendly. It seems like once Opodo customers manage to reach a human instead of a bot, things often go okay.

    Our verdict: In the unlikely event that Opodo comes up cheapest on Skyscanner or Momondo, we wouldn’t automatically discount them. Just know that if your flight is cancelled, it’ll take at least six months to get a refund - and that you will not be refunded the full amount. Reading the Ts & Cs of your booking will be well worth the time and effort, so you can make an informed decision.

    We’d also suggest that when you’re going through the booking process, double check that no boxes are automatically checked to sign you up for their Prime membership. Uncheck everything and start again from the top, just to be sure!

    What we’ve heard: This one is kinda fun for us, since our team has personal experience of a fairly common scam we’ve heard going around. Head Flight Finder Tristan booked a cheap flight from Mexico City to Orlando via Luckily, he was still sitting by his computer when he got a message saying that the initial payment hadn’t gone through, and he had to call up to confirm his details within 15 minutes, otherwise the fare would increase.

    This tale made us question whether is legit, but we couldn’t find other reports of this happening with In fact, the greatest issue most people report with their bookings is confirmation emails containing incorrect dates or missing information. But since is a Chinese company, they have no obligation to offer 24-hour free cancellation like in the US and Europe. You’re then faced with no other choice but to pay a hefty change or cancellation fee.

    A more unusual story that kept popping up actually happened once people had successfully received their ticket confirmation and airline booking reference. Upon logging into the airline portal to check all the flight details were in order, customers were able to see the names and credit card details of the people who booked the ticket on their behalf. 

    In one instance, the agent had booked a passenger’s plane ticket using the name of a famous German tennis star (we just want to know which one!), a credit card with a name that didn’t match, and a fake email address. Thankfully, this didn’t cause any problems for the passenger, but had the card been reported as stolen, for example, they’d have been out of luck.

    We also found out that and Skyscanner are actually owned by the same parent company. It would be naive to think that won’t have some impact on their ranking or position in the results.

    What Skyscanner says: gets lots of reviews on Skyscanner, despite being a fairly young company based in China - perhaps that’s down to their relationship with Skyscanner, perhaps they just know how to offer a good deal.

    It’s another solidly average 3.5 stars, which reinforces the mixed bag of experiences out there. From what we’ve read, they don’t seem to go in for hidden fees, and the booking process seems easy enough (at first, at least). We reckon those lower ratings are probably down to weird experiences like Tristan’s, as well as unorthodox booking practices and unhelpful customer service.

    What Momondo says: In the words of Ronan Keating, “You say it best when you say nothing at all”. Not only does Momondo not give a medal, it doesn’t even show up in any of the results we’ve seen - and that applies across all the domains we checked.

    What’s the beef here? We need to know… Could it be that whole parent company/Skyscanner thing again?

    What Trustpilot says: does okay on Trustpilot, with 3.5/5 stars. Sifting through the reviews reveals a pleasant mixture of positive 5-star ratings and angry 1-star ratings, stating that they would have given it 0 stars if that were even possible.

    The common thread in most one-star reviews is poor customer service. But when you look a little closer, that’s often coupled with customer errors - forgetting to include middle names during booking, choosing trips with layovers that are really short - and there’s very little the customer service agents can do other than charge fees to change them.

    There are still plenty of mentions of familiar complaints as well, though, like issuing tickets for the incorrect flights, delayed email responses, and genuine surprise that OTAs don’t offer the flexibility you might get from an airline.

    We also found one review with a similar story to Tristan’s. This person didn’t receive a booking confirmation within 24 hours, so when they followed up, denied that the booking existed and requested an extra $165 from them. When the customer checked the airline website, fares had increased by $100 since they tried booking, so they knew had messed up and wanted someone else to pay for it.

    Our verdict: We don’t love the tricks they try to pull - they don’t seem to happen frequently, but once is enough to leave a sour taste. Otherwise, seems okay around 50% of the time. It’s a gamble, but if the price is right...


    What we’ve heard: GotoGate frequently show up with nice OTA discounts, so we’re quite relieved to say we haven’t heard too much on the negative side. In fact, we’ve had way more positive GotoGate reviews from JFCers booking deals than we have negative.

    The most common complaint we’ve had from our members involves delayed refunds on tickets affected by COVID cancellations, and this seems to be the case across travel forums like TripAdvisor as well. 

    Understandably, nobody wants to wait 6+ months for a refund, or argue that they’re due their money back. This is definitely a situation where you need to be up to speed with the Ts & Cs of your booking.

    Their customer service team does take a beating online, with several posts questioning whether they even exist. Customers who do manage to get through have apparently had waiting times of upwards of one hour - that definitely doesn’t sound appealing.

    What Skyscanner says: Oh dear, it seems like most passengers booking via Skyscanner haven’t been so lucky, since GotoGate are rated at a measly 2.5/5 stars.

    We’re confident this comes down to poor customer service and the issues many people have faced when trying to get a refund. There’s nothing to suggest that GotoGate fail on Skyscanner’s other criteria, like hidden fees and ease of booking, at least.

    What Momondo says: As we’ve seen with other OTAs, it doesn’t take much to get a slice of the Momondo medal pie. That’s maybe why GotoGate get Momondo approval, along with a little highlight for reliable pricing and good customer service.

    Maybe customers booking through Momondo have just been really lucky?

    What Trustpilot says: GotoGate is another one with multiple Trustpilot listings depending on your domain, but most of them seem to agree that it’s not a winner. gets 2/5 stars, while gets 2.4/5 stars. Looks like you’ll have to book via if you want a decent experience.

    The comments say exactly what we’d expect after reading other forums - refunds haven’t been paid out to customers, despite the airlines refunding the OTA. You’ll also find several people slating them for charging lots for changes and extras, but this is fairly standard for OTAs. 

    A little more worryingly, there are a few reports of people buying their COVID insurance package to cover flight cancellations and still having these issues. One customer had to pay extra for the refund to be processed and then waited 6 months to receive their cash.

    Our verdict: Don’t rule them out, despite the negative reviews. If they’re offering a great discount off the airline price, it’s worth booking your flights with them. Just do yourself a favour and check that all your information (names, birthdays, etc.) is entered correctly, and choose a route with feasible layovers. 


    What we’ve heard: Somehow, Expedia seem to have avoided major scandal when it comes to flight sales (though they might have made a few mistakes on their hotel side…). They are the biggest travel agency in the world and also own a few other familiar names, including Trivago,, CheapTickets and Vrbo, so they probably know what they’re doing by this point.

    Where we have seen complaints, they’re all surrounding cancelled flights and problems contacting customer service. A familiar story at this point. Many people on forums said they used to use Expedia religiously but never would again, so things may be going downhill here. 

    What Skyscanner says: Skyscanner reviews of Expedia clearly reflect the recent trend, leaving them with only 2/5 stars. This rating seems very poor to only be the result of customer service issues and old COVID-related cancellation problems, so there must be some lasting issues.

    What Momondo says: Expedia does show up on Momondo, however they don’t get any medal of approval. This could be down to the poor customer reviews, or it could be down to Momondo being owned by Expedia’s biggest rival, 

    We love a bit of drama, so we’ll assume it’s the latter.

    What Trustpilot says: Wow, we didn’t quite expect it to be this bad - Expedia scores just 1.1/5 stars in the US and 1.2 in the UK on Trustpilot.

    Every recent review we saw gave them one star and said to avoid due to cancellation problems. These were likely down to the post-pandemic flight chaos and not Expedia's fault, but most flight-related complaints make it seem impossible to get a refund from them. Or where people managed to change their itinerary, they generally had to pay a big fee. 

    One passenger mentioned that they were told they’d be charged £250 (approx. $290) to adjust their flights. Instead, they were charged the full fare again and had to wait 8 weeks for the difference to be refunded. Not exactly ideal if you don’t have the spare cash just lying around in your account. 

    It’s worth mentioning that since Expedia are also one of the largest hotel booking sites, there are several complaints relating to problems with accommodation reservations too. Usually we’d say this could skew the results, but we’ve not seen much evidence to back that up.


    Our verdict: It just goes to show that digging a bit deeper is always worth it - Expedia may not have the bad headlines, but they sure know how to anger their customers. In short, we’d be cautious about booking with Expedia wherever possible unless you have some back-up cash.

    What we’ve heard: has been on the scene for a long time, and in some ways we thought of them less like an OTA and more like TUI or another travel agent. But recently we’ve heard some complaints that make us see them in a different light. We also learned that another OTA, Bravofly, acquired the lastminute brand in 2015, so if you’re buying from one, you’re buying from them both - sneaky.

    In 2021, Which? Travel published an article saying should be your last resort. The major complaints they cited were failing to refund customers within the legal timeframe, as well as charging a £25 fee for carrying out said refunds.

    Pandemic cancellations definitely caused flight chaos, so we checked to see how reviews were looking these days - spoiler alert: it ain’t great. Continued cancellation chaos and un-refunded flights get frequent mentions like other OTAs, but there was also one particularly weird story we found.

    A customer made her booking through, but when she looked at the payment on her bank statement, it said It turns out that at some point during the payment process, she’d been redirected to a domain giving away the fact that lastminute and kiwi are in cahoots. 

    To be fair, they don’t try to keep it secret - if you go to, it’s there in plain sight. It’s pretty unclear whether they’re lastminute or kiwi or both, or if this is some weird scam, but it all makes us want to avoid them even more.

    What Skyscanner says: Skyscanner reviews make seem much less scary. There are a lot of them, and with 3.5 stars, it feels like there’s a good chance you won’t lose all your money. The same goes for Bravofly, who get 3/5 stars.

    According to Skyscanner’s rating process, you’d expect most people found the fees and booking process fairly clear. And if we had to guess what let them down, we’d assume it’s the curse of the OTA customer service. What we read on Trustpilot only backed that up…

    What Momondo says: Momondo gives one of their medals and the standard reliable pricing and good customer service shout-outs. Strangely, Bravofly doesn’t get the same recognition despite them being one and the same.

    What Trustpilot says: It’s not great for lastminute over on Trustpilot, at 2/5 stars. There are several complaints calling their customer service unprofessional, while others say they just never receive a reply to their emails. On top of that, many are finding it virtually impossible to get a refund for their cancelled flights.

    If that doesn’t put you off, these stories will. One customer says that they bought their luggage upgrade along with their flights through lastminute, who then cancelled the bags but not the flight. The customer was then left with flights they couldn’t take because they needed their luggage too.

    Another person reports paying extra for priority boarding and seat selection, only to discover when their boarding passes arrived that their group had been given randomly allocated seats anyway. Of course, they then had to pay extra to the airline at the check-in desk to make sure they could sit together.

    Unfortunately for Bravofly, the story is much the same, with 2.3/5 stars. We found more reports of customers buying extras that didn’t pay off, like one who purchased the “flex package” so they could change their flights without a fee. Despite requesting a change, they never got any confirmation until Bravofly said they’d tried calling about the change and couldn’t reach them. The customer then called up and was told it would cost more than double what they’d originally paid to change their booking.

    There are some positive reviews there to balance things up, though. Easy booking experiences, timely check-in info and boarding card delivery, and smooth transfers are all mentioned, so perhaps they’re not all bad?

    Our verdict: We’ll pass on and Bravofly. From the weird kiwi payment story to ignoring the overpriced extras people have purchased from them, they just don’t feel like the good guys. 


    What we’ve heard: We’ve only heard suspiciously good things about TravelUp. We say suspicious because at this point, we just can’t believe there’s an OTA that doesn’t have at least some complaints. Everything we found on the TripAdvisor forum was pretty dated and always regarding cancellations or change fees. No surprises there.

    We checked out consumer review page sitejabber to see what the angry mob had to say there, and instead we found people singing the praises of customer service agents and complimenting the website’s ease of use and “calming background colors”. It all sounds pretty great, to be honest.

    That is, until we stumbled upon some (unfortunately private) Facebook groups with names along the lines of ‘TravelUp Unfair Fees’ and ‘Travelup ripoff’. One of the groups has 1.4k members and has been active for the last two years, so it’s clearly not all sunshine and roses. 

    And the Yelp reviews agree. There aren’t many, but they all say to steer clear of TravelUp. As well as the expected complaints about change and cancellation fees, there were some reports of the company changing flight itineraries without passengers’ permission, which had a knock-on effect for entry visas into certain countries. Not cool, TravelUp.

    What Skyscanner says: Travelup reviews on Skyscanner echo the more positive vibes with 3.5/5 stars. It’s not all singing and dancing, so there clearly are some less-than-happy customers out there. But when the rating is based on nearly 22k pieces of feedback, we’d say that’s pretty good going.

    What Momondo says: We’re not shocked to see Momondo giving the seal of approval, either. It would be more surprising if they didn’t, honestly. We kind of believe the reliable pricing and good customer service shout-outs this time, mostly because we don’t think they have a “good colour scheme” option.

    What Trustpilot says: It’s really something to see a company rated ‘Great’ with 4/5 stars on Trustpilot. There are lots of reviews posted there to back this up, too, saying how fast and efficient the booking process is and how helpful the customer service agents were. 

    Many of those posts included the words “so far”, or mentioned that they’d not yet taken their flights. We only hope that there actually is one for them to take when they arrive at the airport, unlike one incredibly unimpressed customer reported in her one-star rating.

    Scrolling down, we found some more negative reviews. There were familiar stories, including changing itineraries and huge cancellation fees, as well as complaints about long waiting times to reach their call centre. That said, the percentage of 1-star and 2-star reviews they receive is still much lower than the number of 5-star reviews. 

    Our verdict: Weighing everything up, it really seems like TravelUp are fairly reliable. The vast majority of reviews are positive, and where there are complaints, it’s often to do with change fees. There are a few causes for concern, but that certainly doesn’t seem to be the norm here. We’d use them - but only after reading the cancellation policy thoroughly, and we’d make sure to check for any itinerary changes regularly.


    What we’ve heard: CrystalTravel seems kind of like a tale of two extremes. We’ve seen them offer really nice prices and read positive comments about booking experiences, but we’ve also seen the wrath of angry customers plastered all over forums and review sites.

    There are multiple posts on TripAdvisor and sitejabber that report “ghost fare” tactics - that’s when you’re offered a price that doesn’t really exist. It might go up when you click through to the booking page, or they might contact you once you think the deal is done and dusted to let you know that the price is no longer available. That’s usually when they’ll try and up-sell whatever more expensive fares are still going.

    Lots of people also complain that they’ve not received any booking confirmation, even months after booking. The question is, have CrystalTravel even booked the flights with the airline, or are they playing roulette and waiting to make a bit of extra cash when fares go down?

    And to add insult to injury, it seems that they don’t answer their phones or emails either.   

    What Skyscanner says: We couldn’t actually find CrystalTravel on any Skyscanner results, which seemed pretty unusual. So we contacted CrystalTravel through their website chat to ask them if they advertise through Skyscanner.

    The customer service agent got back to us very quickly (nice work) to say that they were sorry, Skyscanner is not one of their business partners. They then very quickly followed up with, “If you want to make a booking cheaper, I can do that for you”. 

    5/5 stars from us on that offer, but unfortunately we weren’t in the market for any holidays at the time of writing.

    What Momondo says: Good news, Momondo likes them! We don’t feel like it means much, though, especially when we see so many reviews elsewhere reporting shady behaviour.

    What Trustpilot says: Unbelievable to the point of real suspicion, CrystalTravel score 4.8/5 stars on Trustpilot. We’re not sure how they did it, but the reviews are glowing. Everyone says how quick and easy the website is and how great the communication was with the customer service agent. 

    Interestingly, lots of the reviewers seem to know the full name of the person they spoke to in customer service, and most of them have the surname Smith. We’re not sure whether we’ve ever had a customer service agent give us their full name before, but it does make the following point seem more plausible.

    When you sift through to find the negative reviews, there are lots of accusations claiming the positive reviews are fake and that they are scammers. Most complaints again include ghost fares and itinerary changes that were apparently not initiated by the airlines.

    Our verdict: The shiny reviews make it look good, but we have a couple of big questions. Why aren’t they on Skyscanner? And why are they changing customer bookings when the airlines haven’t changed anything? 

    We wouldn’t want to entertain the idea of fake reviews on Trustpilot, but we’re just not sure what the truth is here… One thing we would say in their defence is that their webchat communication was really fast, so if you’re just looking for a chat and potential holiday discounts, go for it. 

    Final thoughts

    After diving deep into the world of OTAs, it’s fair to say that we’ve been left a little jaded. You can never have full confidence in any third-party booking site, especially when even the highest-rated online travel agencies still manage to get slated so hard.

    Seeing all the details Skyscanner considers when awarding a rating, we find their star ratings much more believable than Momondo's medals. As we've seen here, there's no customisation to tell you what the individual OTA is great at, and you can't actually see how positive or negative customer feedback has been.

    However, there are a few OTAs in there that we think are worth giving a go, no matter whether you get there via Skyscanner or Momondo. TravelUp and Gotogate in particular have a fair balance of good and bad reviews, which we find much more realistic than ratings that seem too good to be true. 

    Most of the negative feedback for all the OTAs we've looked here at comes as a result of human error - typos in names, wrong dates of birth, incorrect flight dates - or cancellation issues. So long as you actually read the Ts & Cs and cancellation policy (and can stomach the amount you’ll have to pay if you do need to make a change), you should be alright.

    Just don’t get lured in by any of their extras, and make sure to uncheck every box and recheck only the things you need before paying - especially if you find yourself on eDreams.