Routehappy is new and instantly my favorite flight-search tool
A new flight-search website has launched to the general public only a couple weeks ago and it feels like the future. There are at least 10 major players for those looking to buy airline tickets and most of them have more similarities than differences. Routehappy.com looks like the others at first glance, but it is actually loaded with very useful information that none of the others have yet.
A couple years ago a new site called Hipmunk got a lot of well-deserved traction and buzz by changing the main fare-display screen to show flight and layover times rather than just a list with the cheapest on top. It proved that in today's airfare market, where often dozens of flights are clustered closely in price, that there are more important factors than price alone.
Routehappy takes it several steps further
The killer feature of Routehappy is that every flight listed not only includes airline, price, depature time, and duration, but it also includes the following for every flight:
- Plane model
- Seat pitch (distance between seat backs) and roominess
- Entertainment system
- In-seat electricity availability
- Wi-fi availability
- General airline/route review
At least as of now it doesn't mention whether there are free or paid snacks or meals or drinks, which could be another useful feature since it still does vary in many markets. But still, they provide so much useful information that no one else does (yet) that I'm already hooked. As a taller person, the seat pitch is a major factor for me, so instantly knowing which flights only offer 29″ (cramped) or 33″ (roomy) is fabulous. In the past I've tried to research that on SeatGuru, but that site is still missing most of the airlines (in Asia) that I seem to fly.
Critical information for so many similar airfares
Working on PriceofTravel.com I spend many hours each week researching airfares, and on competitive routes around the world (international and domestic) you'll typically see the cheapest airfares bunched closely together. In other words, there might be 5 airlines offering fares within US$10 or US$20 of each other on a US$400 flight.
Hipmunk generally lists the shortest and nonstop flights on top and pushes cheap flights with long layovers down the list. That's helpful but I can do that in my head in 20 or 30 seconds. Routehappy, on the other hand, provides information that is difficult to get at all. Who wouldn't pay US$10 more for a flight where every seat has good legroom and there's a personal entertainment system compared to a cramped flight with no entertainment at all?
So far Routehappy is missing some airlines and flights
When I check airfares for research or my own purchases I typically start with Kayak and then I use Momondo and Dohop to make sure Kayak didn't miss the best option. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, at this point Routehappy still seems to be missing some of the cheaper airlines and flights. Hopefully this situation will improve soon because if some of the cheapest options aren't listed then knowing the seat pitch and wifi options on more expensive flights doesn't help me much.
So for now I'll be using Routehappy but I won't really start my decision making process until I've checked the other websites for cheaper options. Only if Routehappy includes the best choices is it really helpful.
Will other flight-search sites copy it? I assume so
It's probably best for the consumer that flight-search sites aren't able to patent these sorts of innovations. Kayak caused an absolute revolution when it became popular, but another site called Sidestep was basically identical to it before the two brands merged. So it would seem that when one site comes up with something that people like, others are sure to add that feature too.
I'm routing for Routehappy as it seems that they have moved the industry ahead by a couple of years all at once, but I sort of expect Kayak and other sites to add in some of this same information in the coming months. So Routehappy might only have a short window where they are alone with this approach, and hopefully they'll improve their inventory soon enough to get a foothold.