Google Flights has really become the go-to source for many people looking for flights and for good reason. There are a ton of clever ways to use Google Flights to get the flights you want. Hipmunk is fighting back, though, by launching a redesigned search platform to make it easier for consumers to find the "right flight".
With basic economy fares on many domestic flights in the U.S. and quickly expanding abroad—Singapore Airlines has started unbundling fares and Virgin Atlantic just announced economy "light" fares—it's getting harder and harder for travelers to find the flights they want.
No one, and I mean no one, wants to book a flight only to realize later that they actually booked a basic economy ticket that makes you board last, doesn't allow you to use the overhead bins and doesn't earn elite status miles—though, most of you shouldn't care about this.
Hipmunk is hoping that their new search options will help travelers figure out all this stuff beforehand so they can compare what they're going to get.
Users will now be able to quickly compare prices from the search results. For example, you can see the price of a basic economy/coach fare, economy/coach, premium economy, business class and first class. With domestic first fares barely priced higher than economy class, this could be a very useful tool for helping you upgrade yourself when the price is right.
Not only do you get a quick comparison of prices by seat type, you can also get more detailed info about your options with one click. With their comparison matrix, you can find out your Wi-Fi options, carry-on and checked bag options, food options and more.
Another feature of the Hipmunk's Right Flight search is the "Show Me" column. Here, you can view several important aspects of your flights including:
- Amenities: This is the default option that includes if Wi-Fi, power & USB, seat info, food, and on-demand entertainment.
- Wi-Fi: Shows you if Wi-Fi is available and whether there is a fee
- Aircraft: Provides the aircraft type for each segment, seats per row and images of the interior
- Baggage: You can view your baggage allowance for both checked and carry-on bags.
- Mileage: Check the redeemable miles for each flight option and view status qualifying miles by scrolling over the miles earned for a flight.
Choosing the flight you want has become more difficult with the introduction of basic economy fares on major airlines who are trying to compete with low-cost carriers. Hopefully, Hipmunk's redesigned flight search engine will make it easier for travelers to choose the right flight.
There are a couple things I'd like to see Hipmunk. First, I'd like a quick way to view seat pitch (width would be a nice bonus). Google Flights doesn't offer this either but there's an easy workaround to get seat pitch info. The Chrome extension Legroom for Google Flights makes this info easily accessible when running searches on Google Flights. Hopefully, Hipmunk can build this into the search engine at some point.
While I know Hipmunk is geared toward a broad American audience, I would love to see an option to change which frequent flyer program with which you want to earn miles. For some travelers, it might make more sense to credit a United flight to another airline—I credited an ANA business class trip to Asiana late last year because it earned more useful miles for me. This is probably a long shot, but I'll keep dreaming.
All in all, I'm looking forward to seeing Hipmunk's new search engine in action. Maybe it can even replace Google Flights as my go-to choice. If nothing else, I hope their efforts spur innovation from other flight search platforms.