Booking travel can be daunting. There are so many flight, hotel, and car rental sites out there that promise the best deals with the best companies. To stand out from the competition, a site has to develop a unique way to easily book the best trip for you. Hipmunk succeeds with several really useful features.
We’ve mentioned Hipmunk before, but now that they’ve been off the ground for a while, we thought it’d be time to give them another look. Their booking system organizes flights by “Agony” taking layovers, price, wi-fi and more in to account when presenting results – a great feature.
You can sort hotels in to business, kid friendly, luxury, romantic or kid friendly, and then rate them based on “Ecstasy”, where Hipmunk lets you see the best hotels based on price and amenities.
Use the Pricegraph capability (my favorite feature) to see the least expensive roundtrip fares across a range of 90 days. Green-colored bars show the dates with the lowest fares; blue-colored bars show the higher fairs. Click on the desired date of travel; then the return prices display by this same color-coding. Prices shown include taxes and fees. This is great for searching ahead to get holiday airfares, and if you may be in need of a mileage run in the upcoming months, this may help you find the cheapest days to fly. Unfortunately the Pricegraph doesn’t work with hotel rates.
On the display of airline choices, you may see “Mystery Airline.” This indicates a consolidator. For flights where multiple airlines are involved, it is clear to see which airlines are flying which segments. For flights where there are connections, you can see at a glance what the connection time is (very important on international flights when you may need extra time to clear customs).
Their chat window lets you ask questions or provide comments. When I asked a question about the “Mystery Airline,” the response was very fast and the agent fun and friendly. When I asked if U.S. low-cost carriers display fares within Hipmunk, the answer is all but Southwest Airlines. No surprise here since Southwest fares to date have only been on Southwest.com. I liked the ability to reach a real person who could understand and respond in a very conversational manner.
Since I like to book my airline tickets on the airline’s website (sorry Hipmunk!), I entered the selected dates at United.com. I received the same flight numbers and same fare as Hipmunk displayed. Hipmunk also does hotel searches and compares room rates across hotels.com, Expedia, airbnb and more.