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I don't know why it's called Hipmunk
August 24, 2010 12:15 PM   Subscribe

Hipmunk is a new easy-to-use flight search tool from the co-founder of Reddit and the author of AppleScript: The Missing Manual, funded by Y Combinator.
posted by grouse (49 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
FlightAware is another awesome source of information for flights.
posted by odinsdream at 12:18 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


When are these things going to be smart enough to skip showing stupid flight routings like San Diego - Austin via Atlanta or Seattle? It would be one thing if it was hundreds of dollars cheaper, but often it is more expensive.

aa.com once wanted me to go to JFK from Austin by: AUS->MIA->LAX->JFK I would have jumped at the chance had they only put Seattle or Anchorage in the mix.
posted by birdherder at 12:27 PM on August 24, 2010


The visual layout of the entire flight is nice. I hope more travel websites adopt something similar.
posted by bjork24 at 12:27 PM on August 24, 2010


Oh man do I love the search results screen and sorting options.
posted by lholladay at 12:28 PM on August 24, 2010


I love that "agony" is one of the criteria you can sort the results by. :D

birdherder: sometimes people who like racking up FF miles take the long way to places, even if it costs a bit more, because it helps them reach their goal. Or so I've been told by people I know who like to rack up FF miles.
posted by hippybear at 12:30 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Exactly - hippybear has it dead-on - reaching your goal can often be achieved far faster by racking up 'flight segments', rather than raw miles.

(Or "used-to", man I don't know what the heck Air Canada is smoking, but maybe I'd better get one of those cars too...)
posted by jkaczor at 12:33 PM on August 24, 2010


birdherder: sometimes people who like racking up FF miles take the long way to places, even if it costs a bit more, because it helps them reach their goal. Or so I've been told by people I know who like to rack up FF miles.

Yeah, I remember reading about that. Some guy would be a few hundred or few thousand miles short of reaching the next premium tier so they'd book the longest flights they could find for the cheapest fares.

Looks like it's called a "mileage run" and there's a couple of FlyerTalk forums specifically about them.
posted by kmz at 12:34 PM on August 24, 2010


This works pretty well, I like the interface. Just used it to book a flight. It should be noted however, that it redirects you to other flight booking engines (Orbitz in my case) to make the actual reservation.
posted by yeahwhatever at 12:35 PM on August 24, 2010


From a European perspective it's missing a lot of carriers - namely the budget ones.
posted by djgh at 12:40 PM on August 24, 2010


I'm looking for flights from the US east coast to Durban, so this could not have come along at a better time. Thanks!
posted by rusty at 12:41 PM on August 24, 2010


I should point out that ITA Software has had a highly-useful and similar visual display of flight choices for many years. It has long been my go-to spot for research on flight options. I think Hipmunk is a little easier to use overall, from what I've seen so far.

aa.com once wanted me to go to JFK from Austin by: AUS->MIA->LAX->JFK

Yeah, I've noticed this sort of thing too when traveling to JFK, while there is a more convenient option via LGA and ground transfer. People really don't like a ground transfer in New York City though.
posted by grouse at 12:49 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just want a website that lets me put in an origin airport and a date and tells me all the direct flights and places I can go. This website fails on that criteria.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:49 PM on August 24, 2010


I knew a guy who flew from Seattle to Spokane and back solely to get the miles he needed to cash in for a vacation and make the next status level.

It struck me as kind of a sad and horrifying thing to do. Particularly since he could have just paid dollars for the miles and saved himself a day of sitting on an airplane and wasting fuel.
posted by gurple at 12:49 PM on August 24, 2010


The "agony" rating is pretty clever. It works well to automatically include further out airports that have non-stop flights or cheaper tickets, which is quite common in Northeast.

Also, Orbitz pays a flat $3 affiliate referral fee. Amazing what you can build a business around.
posted by smackfu at 12:49 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Any guess on where the data comes from? Particularly I'm wondering if it's just some public dataset that anyone can do things with, or if the whole reason they have VC is to pay for the data feed.
posted by endquote at 12:55 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Would it kill them to have the date fields recognize "today" or "tomorrow" ... or even just default to today's date when the "T" key is pressed?
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:55 PM on August 24, 2010


The search page does that great thing where you can enter dates and places pretty much any way you want. I did a search from "Chicago" to "Vancouver Canada" on "may 11" and it showed me flights from both Chicago airports to exactly the right place.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 12:57 PM on August 24, 2010


It struck me as kind of a sad and horrifying thing to do. Particularly since he could have just paid dollars for the miles and saved himself a day of sitting on an airplane and wasting fuel.

I'm not an expert, but at least for status levels, I think those require actual flown miles.
posted by kmz at 12:57 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, so it doesn't to tomorrow, which kinda sucks. I'm sure they'll add it in.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 12:57 PM on August 24, 2010


Particularly since he could have just paid dollars for the miles

At least in the experience of one of my coworkers, it can be a lot cheaper to actually do a flight than buy miles directly. If you've got some time to kill, and can just work on the plane, then it makes sense. (From that perspective; not at all from the environmental perspective.)
posted by inigo2 at 1:00 PM on August 24, 2010


Part of the reason the airlines will direct routes through a multitude of odd stops is due to their other revenue stream - transporting freight.
posted by Smart Dalek at 1:01 PM on August 24, 2010


I'd like a fuzzy search where I can say I want to be away ten nights, and I want to leave sometime during the week of blah find me the cheapest flights. I do like how simple it is though.
posted by zeoslap at 1:05 PM on August 24, 2010


I'm not an expert, but at least for status levels, I think those require actual flown miles.

Nope. Here's the Delta rules:
* 25,000 MQMs or 30 Qualification Segments achieves Silver Medallion status.
* 50,000 MQMs or 60 Qualification Segments achieves Gold Medallion status.
* 75,000 MQMs or 100 Qualification Segments achieves Platinum Medallion status.
* 125,000 MQMs or 140 Qualification Segments achieves Diamond Medallion status.
If you are a business traveler, going from smaller local airport to smaller destination airport via one or two hubs, this adds up very fast.
posted by smackfu at 1:06 PM on August 24, 2010


I'd also like to say I have $x to spend, and I want to a flight no longer than $x hrs show me where I can go at the end of September...
posted by zeoslap at 1:07 PM on August 24, 2010


Well, Kayak Buzz is almost that, except you can't pick the length.
posted by smackfu at 1:10 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nope. Here's the Delta rules:

My point was you can't simply purchase your way to elite statuses. You have to be flying.
posted by kmz at 1:15 PM on August 24, 2010


sorry, no results could be found.
posted by rxrfrx at 1:16 PM on August 24, 2010


My point was you can't simply purchase your way to elite statuses. You have to be flying.

Sorry, I misunderstood. Yeah, I think that's why they invented things like MQMs (Medallion Qualifying Miles), which can exclude purchased miles.
posted by smackfu at 1:22 PM on August 24, 2010


not ready for prime time....
-Can't initiate a transaction on a displayed fare: Live chat TS says "must be your browser" (its FF)
-Doesn't seem to be able to include American Airlines, even when its the "preferred" airline.
-Searching orbitz directly returns a fare cheaper than the cheapest on hipmunk on: American Airline...


Neat display idea though.
posted by Fupped Duck at 1:22 PM on August 24, 2010


It struck me as kind of a sad and horrifying thing to do. Particularly since he could have just paid dollars for the miles and saved himself a day of sitting on an airplane and wasting fuel.

Not that I really want to defend mileage runs on rational grounds, but: you typically can't just buy "status miles," i.e. miles that count towards elite status on an airline. On most airlines, barring special promos, you need to actually put yourself in a seat to "earn" that status.

If you ignore carbon footprint issues and don't value your own time super-highly, it can occasionally, kinda, sorta make economic sense to do these runs. E.g., suppose I will end this year with 48,000 "elite qualifying miles" on United: if I reach 50,000 in a calendar year, I'll earn a 100% bonus on redeemable miles for all my travel the following year, plus free lounge access every time I fly internationally, plus a greater chance of getting upgraded for free (united upgrades all elites domestically for free, but this is done basically in order of frequent flier tier), etc, etc. I might well choose to value all those things higher than the cost of a trip that would net me the 2,000 additional qualifying miles I need.

I know people who take this way too far -- like, I'm only 42,000 miles short of 1K status! Which comes with all sorts of additional cool stuff (systemwide upgrades! fees waived!)! So it totally makes sense to fly to, um, Singapore (21,000 miles from Toronto) if they have a "double elite qualifying miles" promo! I mean, surely those upgrades are worth more than the $1000 ticket, right? You get the idea.

Derail aside: that search interface is pretty cool.
posted by chalkbored at 1:26 PM on August 24, 2010


Oooh! Hipmunk decided to throw in an Amtrak option for when I searched Toronto to NYC. Top of the chart for price, bottom of the chart for agony (13h20m!)
posted by Kabanos at 1:28 PM on August 24, 2010


Hmm pretty slick.

I think Kayak beats it pretty handily though.

Needs to be able to filter by all the things it can sort by.
posted by Perplexity at 1:31 PM on August 24, 2010


Heh, to go from CT to DC, Amtrak actually wins the agony sort.
posted by smackfu at 1:32 PM on August 24, 2010


Jet Blue.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:36 PM on August 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


In general it's really good, though. It's only a few minor things that I've found so far.

Besides the date field feature-request (in my other comment), which is just something I've seen in other web apps that I really like -- I think there's some JavaScript library that does it, and also lets you increment/decrement the date by using plus and minus -- I've only found one apparent bug.

It lets you put in multiple airports by either putting a comma in between them or by typing "OR". This is cool ... but it doesn't seem to work quite as I'd imagine it would.

If I put in "IAD or DCA", rather than just getting flights out of Dulles and Reagan, I also get flights out of Baltimore. This is what I'd expect to get if I had entered "WAS" (which is actually the IATA code for Union Station in downtown DC, but in air-travel contexts it's the code for "all the DC metro airports").

So far I haven't figured out a way to just get two of the three airports. Some easy way to drop an airport from contention would be good.

The more I look at it, I think it's actually parsing my "IAD or DCA" into "Sterling" somehow, and from there deciding to give me all three DC airports ... but I'm not sure that's really as helpful as just rejecting the query completely would be. It seems like one of those situations where being generous in what you accept could bite you, if what you accept turns out to be ambiguous.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:40 PM on August 24, 2010


If I put in "IAD or DCA", rather than just getting flights out of Dulles and Reagan National.
posted by inigo2 at 1:52 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is what I'd expect to get if I had entered "WAS" (which is actually the IATA code for Union Station in downtown DC ...

Actually, according to Wikipedia, "WAS" is the International Air Transport Association code for all airports serving Washington, DC. I've seen Amtrak use the WAS code for Union Station.
posted by exogenous at 1:58 PM on August 24, 2010


Pepsi Flew.

Seriously, though, this is a great site, especially for people like me who cope with information best when it's presented in a clear, graphical format.
posted by ericbop at 2:04 PM on August 24, 2010


{"jquery": "var _0=jQuery.call(jQuery,\"form\");\nvar _1=jQuery.redirect;\nvar _2=_1.call(jQuery,\"/results?from=BDL&to=KIX&s=szo88896pgr\");\nvar _3=_0.find;\nvar _4=_3.call(_0,\".status\");\nvar _5=_4.hide;\nvar _6=_5.call(_4)"}
posted by Xurando at 2:15 PM on August 24, 2010


I'd also like to say I have $x to spend, and I want to a flight no longer than $x hrs show me where I can go at the end of September...

Apparently your time really is equal to your money.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:38 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, okay, it uses jQuery, I get it.
posted by swift at 2:38 PM on August 24, 2010


Is this something that TechCrunch wants me to look at?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:23 PM on August 24, 2010


Oooh! Hipmunk decided to throw in an Amtrak option for when I searched Toronto to NYC. Top of the chart for price, bottom of the chart for agony (13h20m!)

I took that trip once, when I was young and stupid. Actually it was even longer because I had to get from London, ON to Toronto first.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 5:12 PM on August 24, 2010


That it doesn't include a major airline like American Airlines makes it pretty worthless. If I have to search again to make sure I'm getting the best deal, I'll just search there first. Strange omission considering Orbitz does include them.

I do remember Kayak having a similar issue a couple of years ago though, but they worked it out with AA.
posted by smackfu at 6:05 PM on August 24, 2010


sort by agony FTW. My neighbors prolly heard me laughing.
posted by Lukenlogs at 6:50 PM on August 24, 2010


Apparently your time really is equal to your money.

:)
posted by zeoslap at 7:48 PM on August 24, 2010


I like Matrix2 better - and because it's non-commercial, you know they are presenting all the flights - not just the ones Orbitz will sell...
posted by dave99 at 2:08 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's weird: you can actually get Continental code-share "flights" that include legs on Amtrak.
posted by smackfu at 3:58 PM on August 25, 2010


Looks like a poor selection of airlines. No Tiger, no Airasia? Obviously its "best price" can't be trusted - you'd have to double check on another site for any level of confidence - so what's the point?

I mean, it's pretty and stuff...
posted by pompomtom at 7:18 PM on August 25, 2010


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