New App Cuts Flight Booking ‘Agony’


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Searching for cheap flights on the go just got a lot easier.

Hipmunk, a popular online travel site which launched last summer, has earned much praise for putting consumers first by building an intuitive interface that simplifies the often torturous experience of searching for the perfect flight. Now, the company has applied its winning formula to a free app released this week for the iPhone.

As with Hipmunk’s website, the app prompts users to enter in the cities they are traveling between, their departure and arrival dates, the number of passengers and whether they prefer to travel coach or business class. From this information, the app creates a fantastic chart that organizes the available flights by three key criteria: price, departure times and the overall duration of the flight, including time for layovers.

Users choose which of these features they want to sort the flights by, or alternatively, they can view the best flights as determined by these factors together, or as Hipmunk subtly describes it, their level of "agony." The higher up a particular flight appears on the chart, the better it ranks in all categories.

Clearly, there is no shortage of travel sites and travel apps out there, thanks in part to a boom in travel startups in recent years claiming they make it simpler to find the right flight. But as anyone who’s ever used sites like Kayak, Orbitz and Priceline knows, this isn’t always the case. While these sites generally boast of having countless flights, they sort them solely by price to appeal to cost-conscious consumers. But the cheapest flights are often those making multiple stops, leaving at odd hours of the day or with obscenely long layovers. And the 58 pages of flight results that come back from a simple search only make it more difficult to pinpoint the flight that best suits your needs.

The real beauty of Hipmunk, as a site and now as an app, is its ability to recognize that many consumers just want to spend a few minutes sorting through a limited number of affordable flights and picking the one that’s cheap but won’t leave them stranded for 16 hours waiting for a connection. In this way, the company’s taken much of the pain out of flight planning.

If only Hipmunk could do the same for airports themselves, making each one more consumer friendly so that we could stop dreading the overall flight experience and actually enjoy it.

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