Flight departure times get delayed. Rental cars can come with unusual odors. Even hotels that look dazzling in snapshots will occasionally fall short in person.

Oh, there are so many ways for traveling to let you down. If only vacations were as consistently great as priceline.com (NASDAQ:PCLN).

The recession-shaking travel portal posted another monstrous quarterly report last night. Revenue climbed 33% to $541.8 million, propelled by a hearty 53% spike in gross travel bookings. Pro forma net income clocked in at $1.99 a share, 54% ahead of what priceline posted a year earlier.

Silly analysts were waiting on the wrong runway again. They were expecting a pro forma profit of $1.68 a share on $529.8 million in revenue. This happens a lot, as priceline has blown past Mr. Market's guesstimates for 15 quarters in a row.

It hasn't even been close lately.

Quarter

EPS Estimate

Actual

Surprise

Q1 2009

$0.91

$1.09

20%

Q2 2009

$1.78

$2.02

14%

Q3 2009

$2.92

$3.45

18%

Q4 2009

$1.68

$1.99

18%

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Other portals have to come original to get noticed. Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) initiated a dividend policy last week. Orbtiz Worldwide (NYSE:OWW) announced yesterday that it would be launching a program where it pays travel agents a commission for booking through its agent-dedicated site.

Then we have priceline, which sets itself apart from the competition by simply blowing the doors out with every quarterly report.

A major part of priceline's success has been its overseas activity. Through sites including Booking.com in Europe and Adago.com in Asia, the portal grew its international bookings by 81% (compared to a still impressive but relative pedestrian 21% uptick domestically).

Clearly there is plenty of room for growth overseas, for the right companies. In China, analysts see leader Ctrip.com (NASDAQ:CTRP) growing its top line by a whopping 64% this year, while smaller rival eLong (NASDAQ:LONG) is pegged to grow revenue by a mere 9%.

Priceline and Ctrip have established themselves as the class of this niche.

There will be challenges. Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Bing prominently features its travel comparison engine. Expedia's Hotwire, Orbitz Worldwide's CheapTickets, and travel deals publisher Travelzoo (NASDAQ:TZOO) will continue to make a play for priceline.com's deal seekers.

However, until priceline's streak ends, there's no reason to end this vacation early.

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. priceline.com is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Ctrip.com International is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletters services, free for 30 days. It'll give you an aisle seat for a quick getaway.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been inspired by a deal or two on the Travelzoo Top 20 list but he does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.