I'd normally trust that Skyscanner would only refer to real, legitimate sites, but something about lol.travel just doesn't feel right. I can't find any reviews (negative or positive), or posts about it at all, anywhere. Their facebook page is extremely generic, and every post seems to be liked by themselves and no-one else.
It looks fishy... or maybe they're just very new. But their facebook page's first post was on 14th July 2014, it seems strange that no-one would have posted a review or similar of them since then (or maybe I just can't find them).
They have one phone number listed, (+39) 0541 75 29 12 - so they appear to be based in Italy.
Has anyone used them? Or knows anything about them, or some way to check that they're real (for example maybe there's a 'confederation of flight ticket sellers' or similar I could check they're a member of?).
There's nothing I can see suggesting that they're an "IATA accredited agent", unlike many other flight sellers.
After seeing their phone number was Italian I tried looking for reviews in Italian (
recensioni "lol.travel"), thinking maybe they got established there first. I found precisely one, on signorsconto.it, which Google Translate translates thus:
Federico wrote 01/02/2015 A trip to Rome from Palermo
(4 / 5) During a trip to Rome from Palermo , I logged on to the site of Lol.travel to get an overview of the flights available . Via search engine , after entering the date of departure, the destination and the number of persons , appear all available flights with listed companies that carry them out , the ticket price , travel time and the presence or absence of airports . After you have selected your flights to and fro , you go to the payment and the tickets arrive by e-mail .
Just sounds like a description of the concept of a flight search site, more than an actual personal experience.
Their About Us page claims they're owned by TUI Travel PLC, who were created in 2014 from a merger of two major travel companies. According to that Reuters article, TUI are now "the world's largest leisure and tourism company", so it'd make sense that they might want to set up their own flight booking site.
However, there are no results for searches for:
That page claims they're managed by Easy Market, and that "As from September 2007, Easy Market S.p.A is part of TUI TRAVEL PLC", but there is a similar lack of results backing that up:
- one dead link for Easy Market on TUI plc's corporate site
- no results for Easy Market on TUIgroup's corporate site
TUI are clearly legit, but I'm starting to wonder if they even know that lol.travel claims to be owned by them? It's weird that, with all the business press publicity around the TUI merger, there isn't a single press release or trade article I can find announcing that the new biggest tourism company in the world is launching its own flight booking site.
In fact the only thing I can find linking TUI and lol.travel is this guy's LinkedIn profile.
A whois lookup on their domain name gives results that look okay, but aren't conclusive. Their server is in Italy, their contact email is from an Easy Market Italy that links through to http://www.easymarket.travel/it/home/ - technical details link through to a domain seller.
I would just buy from someone else, but the next option is £200 (around $300) more expensive for the same flights. I don't want to rule lol out simply for being new - but I also want to be confident I'll be getting a real flight booking that works.
Update - still nothing on whether they're legit, but it does appear to be the case that Skyscanner only push them as an option if it thinks you're booking from a unusual location or in an unusual currency. While I was getting no serious alternatives to lol.travel, skyscanner had auto-selected my location and currency based on my current location in West Africa. When I tried again with my location and currency set to the UK, I got lots of more conventional options from familiar (IATA-registered) UK companies, at prices similar or cheaper than lol's prices.
So if you're stuck because they're the only option and you're not sure you trust them, try changing your location settings. But I still don't know if they're for real.