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British Airways
The British Airways site looks predictably stylish but is perhaps a little lacking in identity. This is partly because the services are shared between a global site and a UK one. However, there are plenty of useful features on the site, including the opportunity to book your tickets online and details of some very tempting special offers. The flight information and online timetable is also bang up to date and it's easy to find the information you're after via the drop down menus.
British Midland
British Midland was the first airline in the UK to auction off seats over the Internet, bidding started at £19 excluding taxes. The airline auctioned off thousands of flights so next time around you could grab a real bargain. Keep an eye on the site to find out when they're holding the next online auction. Destinations include popular European cities such as Amsterdam, Paris, Dublin and Prague. You can also check out timetable and book regular flights from the site.
Another low cost airline, this one sees the Internet as its main way of doing business. It's unsurprising, then, that the site is very impressive. Decked out in distinctive purple and yellow livery, it's so easy to use that booking a flight is more of a joy than a chore. It also carefully explains the Buzz pick 'n' mix approach to flying - you start off with a basic price and then add extras such as use of the business lounge.
Having trounced the big boys in the value stakes, it looks like the Easyjet website also has the best of them in terms of usability and promotion. You might need shades to cope with the garish colour scheme but you'll find all the information easily accessible and to the point. The online booking facility shouldn't cause you any problems and, to keep costs down and show they've truly embraced the digital age, you won't even need a ticket when you get to check-in - the reference number emailed to you is enough.
Having been squeezed by the success of Easyjet, Ryanair and the rest, British Airways launched its own low cost airline and this is the result. Many of the cheapest Go fares are only available to online customers so it's certainly worth checking back regularly. When we visited there were bargains galore - including flights to Barcelona and Milan for as little as £40.
The best way to use use the KLM site is to check back every now and again for details of their special offers. You can access these directly from the front page of the site and you're almost sure to pick up a bargain. Having found one there's the opportunity to book online and, should you take regular advantage, you'll want to know about Flying Dutchman, their frequent flyers' club, which is also covered in some detail.
If you're planning on flying to Oz for a holiday there's a fair chance you'll be flying with Qantas. Its site reflects the airline's fun yet professional image, being very easy to get around and use. You can search for bargain fares, check flight timetables and explore the new terminal at Sydney Airport. Kids haven't been forgotten, either, with a fun little beach volleyball game featuring the company's mascot - which is, of course, the koala.
If you travel by Ryanair you might not get a free packet of peanuts or a tepid meal but you will get a cheap, cheap flight to a variety of European destinations. The website points out the latest special offers on the front page before guiding you through an excellent online booking facility. With budget fares like this, which soon get snapped up, it's certainly easier to check availability and book online than spend hours on hold.
Virgin Atlantic
whereas other airline sites have a staid, straightforward approach, Virgin at least tries to inject a little bit of fun into proceedings. Each section of the site is represented by an animated icon flying past your virtual aircraft window, including sections relating to the in flight experience, the history of the airline and, of course, an online booking facility. You can even find out what films are going to be showing on your flight.


If you'd been wondering what Bob Geldof has been up to since he sold his TV production company Planet 24 for a ridiculous amount of money, here's the answer. Deckchair.com is one of the first new project from Sir Bob and it's a discount flight website. The design of this site can only be described as minimal; you get a couple of boxes where you type in your departure and destination points and that's about it. However Deckchair does boast access to a big database of fares (over one million) and it pulls up plenty of relevant search results.
You don't have to wait for tickets to be sent out to you when you book online at EasyJet. All they do is send you an email with a confirmation number and itinerary details and that's all you need. EasyJet is renowned for its bargain-priced flights and it's sold over a million seats online so far. Buy your single fare online and you save a whopping £1 on the normal price, go for a return and you save £2. Still, it's better than nothing and the fares are already cheap.
Discounted flights, car hire, hotels and travel insurance can all be sorted out from the Ebookers site. Anybody looking for a cheap flight should take advantage of the Bid & Go service - you say how much you're willing to pay for a specific scheduled international flight ticket and if the fare drops to that level you're automatically notified. The same service is available on city break deals. The site will even send out SMS messages to a mobile phone alerting you of the arrival times of specific flights.
This site is home to over 70,000 late availability holidays, city breaks and flight-only deals. You can search by price, departure date, departure destination, destination or by length of stay. The holidays come from a wide selection of ABTA approved travel agents. Although you can pick the perfect vacation online, you will have to pick up the phone when it comes to making the final booking. This is a brightly coloured, easy to use site with heaps of background information on the popular resorts. You'll also find airport guides, ferry timetables and exchange rate information.
Teletext Holidays
Many people use Teletext for finding a bargain holiday but everybody gets frustrated with the endless waiting. The Teletext Web site looks exactly like the TV screen pages, but thankfully you control the navigation. The site covers flight-only deals, package holidays and UK breaks and as you'll know if you've used Teletext on your TV screen, prices are competitive. Additional services include flight arrival news, weather reports and the latest travel news.
This site looks a lot like the Expedia pages and like Expedia you can book flights, reserve hotel rooms, hire a rental car and sort out your travel insurance. If you're looking for a cheap flight you can search for the best available fare. A good selection of hotel chains are also represented on the site if you need to book a room. What you won't find is package holiday deals but otherwise the Travelstore site is hugely comprehensive.
Microsoft's online travel service lets you book flights, reserve hotel rooms, hire rental cars and sort out your package holiday. The Handy Fare Compare feature is definitely worth using if you're a bit flexible on departure dates, it pulls up the cheapest fares on the most popular routes. The holidays themselves come from the UK's top 20 travel companies and the selection is huge, with specific sections devoted to skiing holidays and the business traveller. Background information on the resorts comes courtesy of the excellent Rough Guides.


It may not be much to look at but this site from the Association of British Travel Agents could save you a fortune or help you find the holiday of your dreams. The bulk of the site is given over to a list of ABTA's members, which you can search by company name or, conveniently, by the type of holidays that it specialises in. So if you see an enticing offer, check here to make sure that the company belongs to ABTA or, alternatively, to find a particular type of holiday.
Rather than reproducing its entire brochure online, Airtours has made the wise decision of using its website as an extension of its brochures. So, you can find out about all the latest holiday and flight deals on offer - certainly quicker than scouring the newspapers or wading through 30 pages on Teletext. You can choose up to five brochures to be delivered to your home within 48 hours and also play a rather surreal little Shockwave game.
Campus Travel
Professing to house all you need to know about student and youth travel, the Campus Travel site certainly makes a brave stab at doing just that. The most useful feature is the chance to browse and book the heavily discounted fares available to those under 26 and in full-time education. There's also a useful selection of links to those sites that put the adventure into travel, from snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef to skydiving in the States.
Lunn Poly Holiday Shop
Of all the big travel agents, Lunn Poly has perhaps the most impressive online presence. The site has a sunny disposition and contains extensive details of all the latest holiday offers on cruises, packages and short breaks. You can't book online, but the site will help you find your nearest Lunn Poly travel shop so you can book in person.
Thomas Cook
If you're aiming to 'not just book it, but Thomas Cook it', then take a look at this very well designed site from the holiday behemoth. Unfortunately, the site acts more as an elongated advert than a truly useful site. There are, however, the ubiquitous late holiday bargains and opportunities to order brochures online. If you know which holiday you want the email booking and call back services could save you a lot of time and effort.
Thomson Holidays
As one of the most famous travel agents in the country, Thomson has a predictably professional looking site. Far from concentrating on cheap and cheerful holidays to the Costas, the emphasis is on the lavish and upmarket. From skiing breaks to cruises to all-inclusive packages, if you don't mind shelling out you're bound to find something that takes your fancy and selected holidays are available for booking online.
One of the world's biggest independent travel operators, Trailfinders specialises in tailor-made holidays to exotic locations. From the Amazonian rainforests to the Pacific Rim, it's sure to be able to come up with a location and experience to suit you. This site gives you the opportunity to order all manner of brochures and videos to help you decide, as well as providing details of how to book and how to prepare for your trip.
Wallace Arnold
If the thought of jetting away to fancy sounding exotic locations doesn't appeal, then how about a coach tour with one of the biggest names in the business? The mode of transport may be seen as a little old fashioned but the website is anything but. Well designed and neatly organised, it features illustrated details of all the holidays available.


The Backpackers Guide
Backpacking around the world on a budget is becoming an increasingly popular pastime for people the world over. Whether you're planning an adventure to India to 'find yourself' or a fun-packed time on the beaches of Australia, you'll find this site invaluable. Intelligently laid out and written in chatty style, perhaps the most useful feature is an exhaustive directory to the world's hostels. You'll also find some useful tips on the art of survival on the road.
Foreign Office
If you're travelling to a dangerous or unusual area then you'll find this site from the Foreign Office indispensable. If you're a woman travelling to the Middle-East for example you'll need to know which countries will allow you to show your legs. All of this information is included in handy list of do's and don'ts from the Consulate of each country. You'll also find urgent advice on weather warnings, civil unrest, visa requirements and so on.
Healthy Flying
This site, produced by American author Diane Fairchild, aims to minimise the likelihood of you spending your holiday feeling groggy from your flight. Aside from combatting jetlag, the helpful hints also concern eating healthily and avoiding picking up nasty diseases from other passengers when packed into economy class. And if you have trouble with your circulation when airborne, take a look at the inflight exercises you can do.
Home and Overseas
The first few pages of this site extol the virtues of the travel insurance company that hosts it. Click through these though and you'll find yourself at an extremely useful travel planner. The global weather guide will ensure you're not visiting far-off climes in the middle of a typhoon, while the travel health section contains practical and intelligent advice on travelling safely. There's also a directory of useful names and numbers that could get you out of a tight spot.
Tips 4 Trips
It may not be flashly presented or fantastically designed but this site could save you time, money and hassle on your hols. It features 1,000 handy hints submitted by travellers around the world, ranging from the indispensable to the frankly ridiculous but they're all entertaining and snappily written. The tips are arranged into various subsections, making it easy to dip in and out before dashing for your flight.
Travel Health Information Service
A fantastically detailed and informative site, designed to ensure that you have a healthy holiday and have had all the necessary shots. Simply click on the area of the world to which you are travelling and you'll be supplied with all the requisite information for a healthy trip. Considerations like malaria, disease and drinking water are all covered in some detail. And it's this level of detail that makes the site so essential. It'll also tell you what to do if the worst should happen and you fall ill abroad.
The Trip
An extremely well designed and put together site that aims to take the hassle out of the travel experience. The latest travel news will keep you on top of everything from civil unrest to industrial action by customs staff, and there are a number of invaluable resources you simply won't find elsewhere. The new Intellitrip service will scour the Web and beyond to find you the best flight deals, while Flight-tracker allows you to keep tabs on all the aircraft in the world, so you won't be left hanging around in the arrivals lounge.
US Centre for Disease Control
Produced by the US Center for Disease Control this is a comprehensive discussion of all the diseases to watch out for when travelling to far-flung corners of the world. If you're travelling to a sensitive area, you'll want as much information as possible on the dangers you may be facing. So the up-to-date articles and interactive map of the most troublesome regions may just save your life.