We’ve all seen the hilarious commercials from Kayak, a new all-in-one trip planning website. If you haven’t, you should check them out. This week I decided to start planning a trip to Hawaii this summer, and those funny commercials came to mind. I was presently surprised to find not only does Kayak have a Universal app, but the palindrome named company did a great job on it as well.
Kayak allows you to do a few pre-search setup functions in order to make your searching and booking a bit smoother. Because the app works in landscape and portrait, the layout changes a bit. The Preferences button is the common sprocket symbol. Here you can quickly create a Kayak account if you do not already have one, or login if you do. This will allow you to save your searches and email bookings to Kayak in order to create trip logs. The other setup function will allow you to pre-enter your information (such as name, address, phone, etc) in order to expedite the booking process. From the Preferences page, simply click on Autofill and put in your information.
Finding Trip Flights, Hotels, and Cars
Along the side of the screen, you will see the symbols for flights (a plane), hotels (a bed), and cars (a car). You will also find a map based search function represented by the GPS symbol, another plane symbol for tracking your flight, and a luggage symbol for viewing your saved trips.
Lets start with Flights. First click the top plane icon, then the search bar. From here you can find a One-Way, Round-Trip, or Multi-City flight. One-Way and Round-Trip are pretty self explanatory. Multi-City adds the flexibility of allowing you to book flights with each leg defined by you. For example, I plan to travel to 1 island of Hawaii, but return from another. For this, a Round-Trip would not work. Using the Multi-City choice, I was able to select the depart point as Philadelphia, and Arrive point as Honolulu. Then, on the return flight, I was able to select Kahului as the depart point, and Philadelphia as the Arrive point. Both legs allow me to select the dates. The process for this is intuitive and easy to use. I was able to find a reasonable flight in this manner.
So I have my flight, on to the Hotels. Since I am staying on 2 islands, I will need 2 hotels. Kayak makes this pretty simple. From the Hotel icon, I search for Waikiki, the first city I wish to stay in on Honolulu. I then enter the check-in and check-out dates as well as number of guests and rooms. Once searched, I can filter the results by number of stars, brand, specific hotel name, and/or price. I’m looking for a 4 or 5 star hotel, so I filter on that. From here I get the list of hotels and can see pricing and star rating initially. If I click on one, a smooth popup will show Options for Booking (prices from different websites), Overview, Photos, and Reviews. I also get a small map with the hotel’s location as well as its address, phone number, and an option to show it on the iOS Maps. If I wish to book, I can simply click Book Online next to the row I wish to use. From here the app will pull up the full site within the app. This is one of the only areas I believe could be improved, though it works just fine. If you plan to book the hotel, and you selected auto-fill from the preferences menu, you will be presently pleased to find all of your information is already filled in! Repeat this process if you need another hotel on different dates.
Cars are easy to find, and Kayak makes sure you get the best deal out there for the days you need the car. Select the Pick-up and Drop-off points and dates, click search, and the cheapest rental will be staring you in the face, super easy.
The GPS icon will allow you to find flights by seeing pins on a map. Clicking a pin will zoom in to show the cheapest flight to that location from your current location. While this is a cool feature, I did not find it especially helpful while booking my flight. Since I have not yet traveled while using this app, I have not used the flight tracker. The final option allows you to view your trips. In order to do so, you must email your confirmations to email@example.com. I will be trying this out once I book my trip.
While the app works well and performs each task in a nice, fluid manner, I have not seen any option to build potential trips without actually booking them. I would love to create a trip with hotel, flight, and car rental saved in order to book at a later time. I realize the prices would change over time – but the saved setup would still be nice. With everything else, I rate this app a 9/10 and hope to see this improvement in the future.
Kayak Mobile is a free app available for download in the App Store now.