Half of all travelers now buy travel online, according to a recent survey, and even more than that go online solely to research their travel plans. The study also found that those who book from a third-party online travel agency such as Hotwire.com and Expedia.com have a satisfying experience.

A Westlake Village-based J.D. Power and Associates report released Nov. 29 found that, on average, online travel agencies scored 810 out of 1,000 points on the satisfaction scale. If this were high school algebra, that would be a low B (coincidentally the same grade I got in algebra). Hotwire got top grades with 824 points, and Expedia came in second with 813. Hotels.com, rated at 788, came in last of the eight sites ranked.

Though consumers are generally happy with these sites, the study finds that they still prefer making trip arrangements from so-called supplier sites — directly from the airlines and hotels.

Twice as many people book reservations directly with the airline, hotel or car rental agency website rather than the independent online agencies, according to the survey. Why?

"People go online to save time and to save money," said Linda Hirneise, executive director of the travel practice for J.D. Power. "When we do look at the branded websites, the No. 1 reason consumers prefer them has to do with the convenience."

Get the full story at the Los Angeles Times