How to search Orbitz

by Roger Wade

November 12th, 2007


This how-to guide will show you the quickest and easiest way to search for flights on Orbitz, so you can confidently book your ticket knowing you’ve gotten the best deal possible.

Orbitz is one of the easiest flight search engines to use because it’s not loaded down with confusing options and extras like some of the others. With a few more clicks you can use some of their tools to make sure you are getting a great price, and this guide will help you use those tools effectively and easily.

Step 1: Click this link to open up Orbitz in a new window so you can follow along while reading this guide.

Step 2: Enter your departure and destination cities.

If you know the 3-letter airport codes for either city this will often save you a step or two. You can type in the city names instead, but many names can apply to more than one worldwide airport so you’ll be asked to confirm your airport from a list in a future step.

Tip: Many cities with more than one major airport still have a 3-letter code city code similar to an airport code that enables you to search flights to all airports in a city in one search. Here are some of the more common ones:

Chicago = CHI Miami/Ft. Lauderdale = MFW Paris = PAR
London = LON New York City = NYC Toronto = YTO
Los Angeles = LAX Rome = ROM Washington DC = WAS

Step 3: Enter your departure and return dates.

You won’t need a calendar handy because when you click into the date box a helpful calendar will pop up so you’ll be sure you are choosing the right days of the week. You can quickly toggle ahead to future months with the arrows in the top corners of the calendar.

Step 4: Choose your preferred flight times in the sliders below the dates.

You can leave the slider at its default of Anytime  or choose a range of hours or even a specific hour of the day you’d prefer to fly.

Tip: Leaving the slider at Anytime  will show you the best prices for the entire day at the top. This way you can still find the most convenient flight time later, but you’ll instantly know when the cheapest flights of the day leave so you can compare.

Step 5: Choose the number of adult passengers (ages 18 to 64) from the slider below, or click on the Children or Seniors link to the right if some passengers are outside the 18-64 range.

You can purchase cheaper tickets for seniors (65+) and youths (12-17) on many flights using this option, but Orbitz also allows you to buy tickets for children (2-11) and infants (under 2) with the option of carrying them on your lap or in their own seat.

Tip: Orbitz has a button below the number of travelers that you can click that says, I prefer non-stop flights.€ Clicking this box won’t change your search results except that it will arrange the flight times of the non-stop flights at the top, even if other flights are less expensive. Unless you are certain you want a non-stop flight, don’t click it.

Step 6: Click on the blue Find Flights button on the right, or if your dates are flexible you can click on the small Flexible dates link near the bottom of the main box.

or

If you’ve chosen to skip the Flexible Dates option jump down to step 11.

Tip: Even if you are fairly certain about the dates you want to travel it can be wise to check some of the Flexible Dates options. You may find that traveling on your dates is far more expensive than surrounding dates, which means you are paying full fare on your dates and not really getting a good deal.

Step 7: Click on the small Flexible Dates link if you want to make sure you are getting a good deal.

Again, it’s possible that the savings would be substantial if you flew on different dates. At the very least this system helps you determine if your preferred dates are near the top or the bottom of the price range.

Step 8: Using Flexible Dates.

Orbitz gives you three simple options to search for the lowest fares for your trip. You can only use one option at a time, but each is quite different so most people will only want to use one anyway. If your dates are REALLY flexible you can, of course, go back and try the others later.

¢ Option 1) Weekends This option allows you to select any month in the coming year and search for the best fares during any weekend in that month. It will check on flights leaving Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and flights returning on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

This is an excellent feature to plan a weekend trip so you know how your fares stack up against other weekends in that month.

¢ Option 2) Bonus Days This option allows you to check different combinations of zero to three travel days before each of your flights. It’s much easier to use than this description makes it sound.

This is the best option if you are fairly certain of your dates, but you want to make sure you are getting a good fare.

¢ Option 3) Flexible Stays This option lets you choose an approximate length of your trip (2-4 days, 10-12 days, etc.) and the earliest and latest possible dates you can travel.

This is a great feature if you have a flexible schedule and want to find out the absolute lowest price.

Step 9: Get your Flexible Date results!

Depending on which option you used, you’ll soon be looking at a different grid of the lowest fares for those criteria. You might have to look closely for a few seconds to figure out exactly how the days and trip lengths are laid out on the page, but it will all become logical after a short inspection.

Tip: In many cases the fares will be quite similar and if that’s the case you can now confidently choose your exact preferred travel dates knowing you are getting a relatively good deal.

If you see fares on the grid that are much lower than others you can now determine if it might be worth adapting your trip to those dates for the lower fares.

Step 10: Click on the dates and trip length that suit you best from the grid.

In the last few quick steps you now know loads of useful information about airfares during your travel period.

Step 11: Get the list of available flights and prices!

The first thing to look at is the grid at the top. This shows you the lowest available fares for non-stop, 1-stop, and 2+ stop flights, with the lowest priced airlines on the far left.

Step 12: Check the details of the individual flights to compare.

This is an important step. The lowest fares for these days will be displayed at the top, with prices rising as you go down the page. It’s very common for fares that are only a little higher to be well down the page. You might find that by spending $10 more you can fly at a much more convenient time, which could definitely be worth it.

The results automatically display with the lowest price first, but you can click on the Departure Time or Shortest Flight tabs below the top grid so you can sort through the list of flights however you choose.

Tip: Also pay special attention to the layover times and total journey duration in the center column. The best fares may all include a stop at the same airport, but one with a 1-hour layover might be beneath journeys that include layovers lasting several hours.

And depending on your route you might be able to find a flight on the list with a layover right on the way, while others fly hundreds of miles off course to another city, which causes a much longer journey.

Step 13: Choose your flight(s).

Orbitz gives you three handy options to construct your final ticket. You can:

1) Click on the blue Select€ button above the pair of flights you prefer.

This will send you into the final booking process.

2) Click on Choose this departure  to the right of your departing flight.

This will choose only the departing flight, and then bring up a list of return flights, including more expensive ones further down the list that might be a better fit for you.

3) Click on Choose this return  to the right of your return flight.

This locks in your selected return flight and gives you a list of possible departing flights.

Step 14: Review the final details and enter your information

Orbitz now displays everything you need to know on one screen and asks for your information. At the top you’ll see the total price including taxes and fees, and further down you’ll enter the names of the traveler(s). Below that you’ll see your exact flight details again and then you’ll likely see some optional hotel offers in your destination. Skip to the bottom and click on Continue with Flight only.€

Step 15: Add attractions and services (or just click the Continue booking button above the list).

On this screen Orbitz makes one last attempt to add things to your trip such as car rental, airport parking, airport shuttles, and attractions in your destination city. It might be an interesting list, but you can skip it entirely with the helpful blue Continue booking€ button above the list. There is another similar button at the bottom of the page that you can use if you’ve added any options.

Step 16: Your final booking options

On this screen you’ll see a few more flight-related options and places you can fill in the rest of your details. It’s mostly self-explanatory, but here are a few key items:

¢ Airline Ticket Protector This is a trip insurance program you can purchase at this time. It’s complicated, but basically for about 5% of the cost of your ticket you are eligible for a full refund of your ticket price (up to $3,000 per passenger) if your trip gets canceled for most reasons that aren’t your fault.

¢ Select ticket type Nearly all tickets are electronic tickets now, so you likely won’t have another option, and you’ll usually pay more for a paper ticket if one is available.

¢ Contact phone number

¢ Orbitz TLC Alerts You can have Orbitz contact you by phone, e-mail, or PDA if your flight is delayed or canceled.

¢ Flight preferences Here you’ll enter your Frequent Flyer number for this airline if you have one (you can also do it at the airport), as well as request special services (like wheelchairs etc) and your preference for your seat selection and a special meal.

¢ Seating preferences In many cases you can click this box and select your exact seats on the next screen. If this isn’t available you’ll be assigned a seat based on the preference you chose in the section above.

¢ Confirm your name

¢ Enter your e-mail address for your confirmation and electronic ticket

¢ Review the rules, terms, and conditions

Step 17: Click Agree and continue 

Almost done, one more screen to go!

Step 18: Review and purchase

Enter your credit card information, review your flight information one last time, and click the blue Purchase  button at the bottom, and you are done!

You’ll get another confirmation screen after this, but your card will be charged already. You’ll receive your confirmation and electronic ticket information very shortly by e-mail.

Ready to try?Book Now

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