A Little Love for Routehappy


I’m not sure how many of you have had the chance to test out Routehappy yet, but the site has been live for about a month now, and it is incredibly helpful for trip planning if you care about more than just price and schedule (and you should). Some new features were just released last week which make the site even more useful.

Full disclosure: Before I go into detail, I’ll remind everyone that I am an advisor to the company.

Now, let’s dig in. The idea behind Routehappy is to provide accurate onboard product information (below) to help people pick the flights that are best for them. The raw detail is available on the site, but it also gets rolled up into a “happiness” score that takes into account the entire experience. It doesn’t, however, take price into account when calculating that score.

Routehappy Product Page

Though the site has been around in beta for awhile, the real launch was a month ago when the team integrated product info along with real time availability and pricing so you can book the flights you find. It’s a metasearch site that primarily sends people off to Priceline now, but they are adding more direct connections with airlines as they go.

The idea is great, but it is insanely hard to get this right. Every time I spoke with the founder Bob Albert early on, we’d plug in a trip I had coming up and there were inaccuracies. But those inaccuracies ended up becoming more and more minor over time. Since things can change a lot in this industry, the site will never be completely, perfectly accurate. But that’s why it’s important that when people see something wrong, they email the Routehappy team. These guys will constantly be updating the database to make it as accurate as possible.

Let’s walk through a search. One of the easiest ones to do is LA to New York since so many airlines fly it. So let’s see how that looks in coach for some random dates in June. You’re probably not surprised to see Virgin America is at the top of the list. In this case, that’s because the default sort is by happiness and it doesn’t look at price.

Routehappy Happiness Sort

Virgin America gets an 8.7 across the board. But why? First, the flights are nonstop. Also, they have audio/video on demand, power, and wifi. The seats also get points for having more legroom than average, but I’m not so sure that it’s noticeable. (JetBlue gets even more points for having more legroom than that, but its lack of power and wifi push it down to an 8.5.)

The last icon shows the experience as being “Good” from user review data. This is based on the experience on the airline but also in the airports on either end for that specific airline.

You can click the “more” button at the end and then get even more detail about what you’ll get on the flight (the first screenshot above). But like I said before, this happiness factor doesn’t take into account the price, and that Virgin America flight is somewhat expensive. Up until now, the only way to get around that was to change it to sort by price and then you get a different result:

Routehappy Cheap Sort

As you can see, Delta has one flight that’s a lot cheaper. And it doesn’t have a terrible rating either, especially when compared to the other Delta options there. The big difference in that first result vs Virgin America looks like it’s in the legroom, which is a little less on Delta and in the “Decent” instead of “Good” rating. That should change with Terminal 3 now gone at JFK. But hey, that’s probably worth it to save over a hundred dollars. In this case, the “Cheapest” sort made it easy to find that good option, but that’s no always the case. Sometimes the cheapest options are crappy and the gems are hidden somewhere in the middle.

That’s why Routehappy just launched a “Happy & Cheap” filter which looks at the cheapest flights, but only if they have a decent happiness factor. This first Delta option certainly fits the bill, but there’s a United option ranked even higher.

Routehappy Happy and Cheap Sort

You might not have seen that United option in the standard search, but if you care about legroom and don’t care about inflight entertainment, then that may be a much better option for only $20 more.

But just looking at these on the surface may not be the best way to really understand the difference. You may want to dig in and do a deeper comparison. That’s the second thing that Routehappy just launched – a comparison function. I remember when we did this at PriceGrabber and I thought it was hugely helpful. Here’s how it looks on the Routehappy site for those Delta and United options.

Routehappy Comparison Tool

As you can see, this also points out that the Delta widebody may have a better seating configuration if you’re searching for two people traveling together. You can play with this yourself on Routehappy.com. For some of us hardcore dorks, this is stuff we already know in our heads. But for the general public, this is an easy way to learn the ins and outs of what you’ll get when you fly. And it can help travelers make better decisions beyond just price and schedule.

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55 comments on “A Little Love for Routehappy

  1. It looks useful to get a general idea about the flights on offer. However some crucial details seem to be missing, for example the booking class. This is very important to calculate mileage earnings.

    Also when booking it sends you to priceline for example. Great for US residents, but not so great for Europeans who try to book AMS-ATH.

    1. Hey Xandrios, this is John, Routehappy’s director of data. I have good news: we’re working on the best way to display information that frequent flyers like you and I care about (like fare class, earning percentage, and status-related benefits) while still keeping things simple for the majority of users.

      As a US-based site, we started out with US-based airlines (you can book direct with AA, DL, UA), with KL, AF and AZ on the list too. I can confirm, though, that Priceline’s European pricing is pretty keen ? I just booked LHR-TLS with my UK credit card and booking in USD actually saved me 50p…or, as I call it, “my inflight meal”. ;)

      1. Hi John, thanks for your reply.

        Perhaps some of the options can be account-based. So that when I log in I might see other details than when somebody else logs in.

        This can also be used to store preferences to base the flight score on. Perhaps I personally do like flying on a Q400, so for me personally these flights should get a higher score. The same for departure times: some might prefer to take a red eye late at night, while other prefer early in the morning. That could all be incorporated into the flight score :)

        1. Hi Xandrios, no worries!

          We’re absolutely on track for account-based personalization ? that’s something that we all want and we know that others want too. Watch this space, and keep up with us on Twitter/Facebook for details and sneak peeks :)

  2. The side-by-side comparision is good when you have to travel at a certain time and can see which flight may be better by something other then price. The longer the flight, the more concerted you may be about what the inside of the airplane may be like instead of the priced you pay.

    1. Not necessary. The longer the flight the more it will generally cost as well – which makes people more price-sensitive.

      Its one thing to pay 25% extra on a short haul flight to get some extra comfort, however 25% extra on a $1500 international ticket is a lot of money. So the price level always plays a role in the selection process, imho.

    2. Hey David, I’m John Walton, Routehappy’s director of data. Routehappy is handy even for those shorter flights. LA to San Jose (CA), for example: there are a bunch of different options there, and some of them are much better than others, even on a short flight where there’s currently a price war.

      Similarly, Air France’s three daily aircraft from JFK to Paris have a huge range, at exactly the same price: http://blog.routehappy.com/use-routehappys-new-comparison-tool-to-compare-up-to-four-flights-in-detail/

      And NY to LA is similar (example’s in that link above).

      Our research and feedback (and our own thoughts) suggest that people care about different things depending on flight length. Short shuttle flight? It’s probably on-time, legroom and maybe smaller plane/number of people in your row. Longer flight? Entertainment can take away a lot of knee stiffness, and a plug can be a godsend. What’s your take?

    3. One issue is that schedule is often the most important factor in convenience. My wife is traveling with two kids (ages 3 and 7), and we just paid an extra 29% to avoid a midnight arrival on the outbound (this accounts for 21%) and avoid a 4-hour layover on the return (8% extra). I don’t really understand how Routehappy factors these — arrival/departure times are controlled by a coarse filter (not as good as on Kayak or Hipmunk), while layover time (or total trip time) are part of the happiness score.

      Of course, layovers are more complicated than just total trip time: especially with children, you sometimes want to allow yourself more than the minimum connecting time, though not too much more…

      1. Hi Ron, John Walton here, Routehappy’s director of data.

        We absolutely factor better connections into the Routehappy Happiness Score, because we know that some folks really care about departing and arriving at a civilized hour, while others would rather take a red-eye on a more comfortable plane, and yet others will connect for a better seat (let alone for miles and a chance of an upgrade!)

        Our Time filters (over on the right hand side above your search results) let you skip unsociable times. Our research showed that most folks want to avoid buckets of times (late night, early morning) but didn’t like having to fiddle with scroll bars or hour-by-hour tickyboxes, so we built time ranges into Routehappy.

        What do you think? Does that make sense, or would you like to see us give an option for really granular time options?

        1. The problem with buckets is that they’re too rigid. There’s really no meaningful difference between 16:55 and 17:05 (nor does a 00:15 arrival turn the flight into a “red-eye” — in the past I’ve seen sites exclude these with an “avoid overnight flights” filter). What makes more sense is determining the buckets dynamically, based on available flight options — this is what Kayak does with its current sliders: As you move a slider it shows when arrivals or departures ara available, allowing you to position the slider in a gap that’s meaningful to you. This is especially useful for small airports which have big gaps among flights.

          The problem is different on routes which have a lot of options that are spread out throughout the day. It would be nice to have the arrival/departure times not as a strict filter, but, say, make the flights progressively unhappier the more they diverge from my ideal travel times.

          1. Those are great ideas, Ron ? I’ll certainly feed them back into our discussions when it comes time to think about how we personalize results. Of course, we have to draw lines somewhere, so thank you for giving us your thoughts!

  3. Too Bad United is in the process of reconfiguring their P.S. Plains into Economy+ and Economy- instead of the current Economy slightly less plus for the entire cabin. That will send their happiness rating down.

  4. Plugged in a summer flight I am planning from DC to Boise. It was interesting to see the options I have through their ratings system. One thing that disappointed me about the site was its review of the Q-400, if I were to choose Alaska Airlines. They made it sound like I would be sitting on the wing of a crop duster and encouraged me to find another flight. Seems a bit extreme, especially since the Q-400 is not that loud, and no worse than most regional jets when it comes to comfort. Are there planes that are more ideal? Yes. But did the flight get bonus points for having free microbrews and wine? Not that I could see. Another disappointment I noticed is their ranking of 3+3 seating. Their comments say it’s bad for long flights. Most likely though, you don’t have a choice. If you do, it’s probably a regional jet. Personally, I’d rather fly on the big jet than a CRJ. And getting a widebody for a domestic flight these days seems about as likely as hitting the Powerball jackpot

    1. Hi Ben, John Walton here, Routehappy’s director of data. Thanks for your detailed comments! It’s so great to get real feedback from real flyers: that’s what we’re all about.

      We really like Alaska Airlines, and their microbrews and wine are very tasty, as our reviewers reflect in Alaska’s Good airline rating, which is factored into our Happiness Scoring. (And Alaska also gets points for having a Roomier (32″) seat.

      But on a hard product basis, we score turboprops like the Q400 (and many of the smaller regional jets) according to their level of comfort. On balance, we think most people would like to fly on a bigger plane (with decent-size bins, a better cabin diameter for more shoulder room) and, yes, the noise factor.

      In terms of 3-3 seating, our aim is to highlight for people that they really do have different choices, even on the same airline. United from NY to London, for example: one flight is a 777 with a 3-3-3 seating layout, and four are 757s with 3-3. All the flights leave within three and a half hours of each other. Again, we think most folks would want to know that one of those options has bigger bins, wider seats, and an option for fewer neighbors in each row.

      And…if you want that widebody on domestic flights, we’ll find it for you! I just flew JFK to ATL on a Delta international config 767. They’re there ? and we’re the only flight search site to flag them up to you so you can find them.

      Feel free to let me know personally if you have any questions! john@routehappy.com will reach me, or we’re @routehappy on Twitter.

  5. I did a couple of random searches, and identified what seems to be one possibly meaningful omission – the happiness score is based on “regular” seating, but doesn’t account for the availability of Economy Plus or the many variants now offered on other airlines for a fee. For example, AA ranks below AS on the DFW-SEA run, but what would happen if you accounted for the availability of Main Cabin Extra on the AA flights? Extra legroom seats aren’t available on AS yet, so that could potentially impact my purchase decision. Granted, trying to plug all of that in is easier said than done, but do you know if that functionality is something that’s being considered?

    Also, seems like the international functionality might not be fully up and running yet. I typed in DFW-BZE, and AA didn’t show up as an option at all, only UA and DL.

    1. Are Main Cabin Extra seats that widely available in the AA fleet yet? I know it’s in the works, but I wonder if that’s why it’s not mentioned. However, I did not see anything about premium economy on the United and Delta flights I looked at, so maybe they don’t take that into consideration.

      1. My comment was more geared towards extra legroom seating in general and not necessarily just Main Cabin Extra – but you’d be surprised at how many AA flights now offer it as an add-on. I was (pleasantly) surprised to see it pop up as an option on both legs of a DFW-SEA-DFW run I have planned in a couple of weeks, after the equipment was changed from the MD80.

    2. Hey there MeanMeosh, I’m John Walton, Routehappy’s director of data. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! We love talking to users and finding out what their priorities are.

      We’re also working hard to be the first flight search site to display what we call “P” cabins: those extra-legroom economy seats like Main Cabin Extra, Economy Plus and Economy Comfort. We’re careful not to conflate those with international premium economy options (like you’d find on Qantas, Air New Zealand, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and so on), and there’s no real way to get availability of those seats since they’re sold as ancillary revenue rather than through the GDS. But we’re certainly working on it, and considering a number of easy-fix workarounds in the meantime. I’ll feed this into our discussions!

  6. A somewhat tangential question on metasearch: I had an odd experience last week, where Kayak and Hipmunk were finding fares and directing me to delta.com, while the same fares were not showing up when searching delta.com itself. This is still going on. For example, try LAX–BIL (Billings, Montana) August 7–15: Kayak shows an evening departure for $261 and many morning and midday departures in the low to mid-300s range, while delta.com only gives a morning departure for $312 with midday departures in the mid-400s and above. Following through leads to delta.com with no change in price, so the same flight on delta.com is priced substantially cheaper when arriving from Kayak (or Hipmunk) compared to starting the search on delta.com. Is there an explanation for this behavior?

    This strange behavior started about a week ago — prior to that, I’ve always seen delta.com show the same prices on its search engine as shown by Kayak and Hipmunk. Being my own paranoid self I assumed this was a glitch and that the lower fares which had disappeared from the delta.com search engine were actually phantom fares not available for booking. But when I finally pulled the trigger a few days ago, the Kayak fares came through. Is delta deliberately removing fares from its search engine which are available for booking on delta.com?

    1. Hi Ron ? I’m on the data side rather than the fares side of things, but I’ll ask around the Routehappy office and see if anyone has experienced this. Obviously, though, I’d be out of turn to talk about what Kayak and Hipmunk do!

      1. This really is more of a question about delta.com. As I said, it’s somewhat tangential, but perhaps other readers might know something about the issue.

  7. A minor UI annoyance on routehappy: Type “bil” in the “from city” or “to city” box, and you’ll get Bilbao, Spain (IATA code BIO) rather than Billings, Montana (IATA code BIL). I understand that there’s an attempt to do some smart matching, and there are multiple matches for the string “bil”, and if you just press tab it gives you the first match. That’s fine, and many sites do this, but the ranking of the matches could be made better. For me, and I assume many others who are familiar with the IATA codes of their favorite airports, I think the most useful ranking would be to put the airpot matching the IATA code on top when the input is 3 characters (web sites differ in this regard; for “bil”, most sites I’ve used either put Bilbao or Billings at the top).

    1. That’s something we’re definitely working on, and thanks for the feedback: we have a few outlying examples where that’s the case, but they do tend to be on the scale of issues popping up where people are confused between Billings and Bilbao rather than between the Melbournes, Sydneys and Londons that are the usual “whoops, what’s going on with my ticket?” question.

  8. Very cool site, good graphics and animation. However, I found the same thing as Ron while searching flights from LAX to DEN. Denver was the first in a list of suggested airport codes, and I clicked on it. However, the site sent me to Denizli, Turkey, the second choice.

    Also, as a super-elite on one airline (as many of your readers are), I strongly concur with the person who suggested a way to log in and have the site place highest priority on that airline and alliance. As you can imagine, a good chance of an upgrade, fee-free luggage, priority security lines, and maintaining status are factors that make me very happy. With that information going in, I’d still like to be able to compare “happy” with “cheap and happy,” as there is a price point at which I would willing to go with the competition.

    1. Thanks, Ajay! I’m so pleased that you like the site. I couldn’t replicate the issue you had with clicking on Denver but being sent to Denizli (even on my iPhone)… if that’s something that’s still coming up then please do feel free to drop me an email (john at routehappy dot com) and I’ll be happy to troubleshoot.

      And yes, as frequent travelers ourselves, we’re very excited about the opportunities that Routehappy can offer frequent flyers. From your likelihood of an upgrade (makes an older AA MD-83 happier than a new A319 purely on the basis of number of first class seats) to the availability of priority security, TSA Pre, and luggage privileges, we know that’s a big want and we can’t wait to show you what we’re working on. Stay tuned to our Twitter or Facebook for the very latest!

  9. Tried Routehappy from MCO to MHT. No Southwest!!! Looked at SWA fares and found one much lower than anything displayed on Routehappy!!! That does not make me “happy” in comparison. Also, SWA had nonstops. All the others were 1 stop.
    Does this really make Routehappy representitive of all the options available to a traveler? I think not!!

    1. Hi Ed, and thanks for taking the time to let us know what’s important to you! We would LUV (as Southwest would say!) to include Happiness Scores and prices for Southwest, but the airline doesn’t participate in the Global Distribution System through which we and other online sites and travel agents find availability and pricing. As a result, they’re invisible on Routehappy.

      You can find Southwest flyer ratings at http://www.routehappy.com/airlines/WN in the meantime. And feel free to let the folks at Southwest know that you’d LUV to see their results on Routehappy. They’re great at listening to their customers and we hope to work with them really soon.

  10. RouteHappy is awesome. I have used it before and find it really helps. Good advice and information for the frequent traveler. Price is always not the only factor, even if it does seem to drive the marketplace.

  11. Here’s a bigger UI annoyance: the side-by-side comparison doesn’t highlight the differences. I’ve seen the same problem on many other sites (e.g. when shopping for a computer): you get dozens of features which are exactly the same, and it’s really difficult to find the differentiators. Routehappy in even worse because the side-by-side comparison only shows the first few factors, and only for the first leg; for the rest you need to click. This really makes comparison difficult.

    Take Billings to LAX on August 15, 2013: the top 3 options are on Delta, all connecting in Salt Lake. Their scores are 7.5, 7.4 and 7.3. But from what I see, the first option appears to be the worst — it’s on a CRJ with no wifi, while the others are on a CRJ-700 with wifi. The first flight also has the longest layover. If I click (3 times!) to compare the second legs, I see that the 7.5 flight has a 757 from SLC to LAX with varying entertainment and power, the 7.4 flight has a 737 with overhead entertainment and no power, and the 7.3 flight has a 320 with no entertainment or power. I’m guessing that these are responsible for the happiness scores. But it would be a lot more useful to present all the comparisons in one screen, with the differences highlighted.

    1. We would LUV (as Southwest would say!) to include Happiness Scores and prices for Southwest, but the airline doesn’t participate in the Global Distribution System through which we and other online sites and travel agents find availability and pricing. As a result, they’re invisible on Routehappy.

      You can find Southwest flyer ratings at http://www.routehappy.com/airlines/WN in the meantime. And feel free to let the folks at Southwest know that you’d LUV to see their results on Routehappy. They’re great at listening to their customers and we hope to work with them really soon.

    2. Sorry Ron, comment location fail on my part! Here’s the answer to your question:

      Hi Ron ? thanks for letting us know your thoughts on the industry?s first-ever comparison tool. I?ll certainly feed them back to the developers.
      I think the take-home message that most folks would see from comparing flights scored at 7.5, 7.4 and 7.3 is that there?s not a whole bunch of difference. That?s certainly the case here: a CRJ connecting to a narrowbody in Salt Lake, with overall time differences of just 45 minutes. For routes with greater variety, our color coding (Routehappy blue for good, gray for neutral and red for bad) highlights the differentiators well. I?ll discuss with our team further, though.
      In this particular case, the chance of on-demand entertainment and at-seat power for the second flight (both of which flyers tell us are very important to them) are what ticks the connection onto a 757 up by 0.2 points in the Happiness Score. But at the end of the day, the differences just aren?t that big, which is why you?re not seeing them.

  12. I think you’ve got some great stuff going, but there are some UI, UX issues that need massaging around comparison, specifically:

    1. How do I get into comparison mode with only two flights selected? It looks like I’d have to select a minimum of four flights.

    2. Is there a better way for comparison mode to handle a connection? Right now I can get it to compare the first leg on carrier A with the second leg on carrier B. (I was comparing SEA to BGM) Everything from the hub to BGM is a regional jet of some variety and every leg from SEA to the hub is on mainline equipment, comparing them doesn’t make any sense, but your UI/UX does allow me to do it. (An aside: I miss the days of DC-9s and F100s into BGM…. :-( )

    If you’re ever in Seattle I’d be happy to spend some time over coffee talking through my thoughts with your UI/UX, at least a few folks at startups have told me I’ve been helpful.

    1. Thanks, Nick! We’re so glad that you like it.

      To select two flights, click on the checks on the left hand side. Once you’ve clicked two, the box above the Sort row will turn a bright, cheery Big Bird yellow. If you click through to four, it’ll automatically bring you to the comparison tool.

      I’ll certainly feed those two points back to our developers and UX folks: given that this is the first time that anyone’s created a flight comparison tool, we’re always keen to hear feedback on how we can improve it. And we’ll keep you in mind next time we’re in Seattle ? give us a yell if you’re ever in NYC.

      1. John, I see it now, but I didn’t see it earlier. I think perhaps this is because the compare route controls are spread out all over the place. It makes sense where the checkboxes are for the flights, but I’m was for controls on comparison where the compare flights text was.

        You’re taking a header to the upper left (Flight direction, date, number of flights) and replacing it with a control. What about taking the compare flights text (bellow Step 3/Book) and turning that exit comparison mode button into a comparison mode control center?

  13. Oh, does your happiness factor take into account the hub airport? There are some hubs I’d rather have a nice 2 hour layover with time to relax, and some I’d like to just get out of as soon as possible.

  14. Hi Ron ? thanks for letting us know your thoughts on the industry’s first-ever comparison tool. I’ll certainly feed them back to the developers.

    I think the take-home message that most folks would see from comparing flights scored at 7.5, 7.4 and 7.3 is that there’s not a whole bunch of difference. That’s certainly the case here: a CRJ connecting to a narrowbody in Salt Lake, with overall time differences of just 45 minutes. For routes with greater variety, our color coding (Routehappy blue for good, gray for neutral and red for bad) highlights the differentiators well. I’ll discuss with our team further, though.

    In this particular case, the chance of on-demand entertainment and at-seat power for the second flight (both of which flyers tell us are very important to them) are what ticks the connection onto a 757 up by 0.2 points in the Happiness Score. But at the end of the day, the differences just aren’t that big, which is why you’re not seeing them.

  15. To Routehappy folks and advisors,

    Go to it. You’re not the first and surely not the last to try to help us figure all of this out. Kudus to you if you have Cranky as an advisor. He is a gem!

    Yes, we here are the “hardcore dorks.” Ask us to explain why, on any given trip, we picked this over that and, as you know, you’ll see it as a bit strange. It isn’t always rational and when we explain it, well….OK!

    Seems like a hundred things go into our choices, although the total cost is way up there in importance if the cost is coming out of our pockets. When flying UA, if it’s a CO plane, forget it…but, well, things do change. And, on that route, that day, will the sun be a problem for me looking out the window, assuming the window row actually has a window?

    Dreamin’ as I like to do, life would be a lot simpler if there weren’t so many fares and if one could expect an airline to use one type of aircraft for a particular route over a given time. (Yes, yes, I know. How would we ever get those crazy $99 transcon fares?) But, you can see why Southwest does have some appeal to those of us who might otherwise dismiss them.

    In this industry, airlines seem to love to price with complexity, minute-to-minute changes and to offer service where it is so difficult to figure out what your getting for how much. Just wacky! But hey, if all this means a profit, who cares, I guess.

    Again, good luck!

    1. Thanks JayB! As hardcore dorks ourselves (you should see our office…) we built a site that we wanted to use, and we’re so thrilled that you and so many others like it. Keep an eye out for our new features as we continue to build the site out.

  16. Been playing around with Routehappy for a trip I have to do next month up to Canada. Most of the options I already knew based on traveling the route often but think something should be added for customs & immigration queues. I’ve been very unhappy at YYZ and YUL waiting in huge lines for passport control where smaller YQB isn’t as bad. Something telling me how many other int’l arrivals happen around my arrival time really would be awesome.

    Also, I HATE US customs pre-clearance in Canada. I would vastly prefer to go through customs on US soil after I’m home than spend an extra hour or more in a Canadian airport and stress over missing my flight. Again, rating how fast or full that line could be at that time is more important to me than if I have a tee-vee for the 2 hour flight home.

    1. Hey there A, I’m John Walton, Routehappy’s director of data.

      I agree with you: I’d love to know all that information, and I’m thinking along the same lines as you are in terms of how we’d figure it out.

      Of course, something like that is bound to run into some quantitative questions (n flights we can figure out, but things like x numbers of immigration gates and y officers stationed are progressively more difficult).

      Keep an eye on Routehappy’s Twitter or Facebook ? I’m sure you’ll like what we have up our sleeve.

  17. For quite some time now, I’ve been hoping somebody would make a website like this. By being focused on price (and fare cost only, not fees), I think other search sites are fueling the airline race to the bottom in terms of the service included in the base fare.

    I agree with others, that some thought is needed with incorporating economy plus.

    Also, it doesn’t look like the results give you warning that Frontier has gone to ultra-low-cost model, with different fare options for different levels of service or legroom. Not everybody will know that (the first time, at least).

    Does the site explain anywhere exactly what terms like ‘nicer planes’ mean? That will always be subjective, but it’d be nice to have some idea of what sorts of factors went into it.

    As for the R symbol for renovated cabin – does that go away once the entire fleet is refreshed? Meaning, is the R a sign that you’re playing roulette and might get a nice modern cabin, or might get a tired worn cabin, depending on your luck? Otherwise, is there an attempt to account for how beaten up and old the cabins are?

    I didn’t quickly see how to personalize the happy+cheap filter, which seems promising. I’d want to set my own floor happiness and ceiling price levels.

    I’m guessing that the site will get more powerful as more users write more reviews. However, the detailed ‘more’ screen view for a flight doesn’t seem to offer the link to read user reviews. Also, while the flyer rating score says it is specific to that route, when you read the user reviews, the default is for seeing all reviews for that airline in chronological order. I was expecting to start by seeing reviews more tailored to my flight choice (though I can see I can use filters to get that). Finally, the rating seems to lump together mainline with all the different regionals that might be flying a route under the same brand name.

    1. Hey there Tharanga, I’m John Walton, Routehappy’s director of data. I’m so glad that you like the site, and thank you for your very detailed feedback. I really appreciate it!

      Rest assured, we’re working hard to be the first flight search site ever to include economy plus style seating. Since airlines sell it as an ancillary cost (like luggage), they don’t distribute it to the GDS systems that we and other flight search sites need to use to find availability and pricing. We want it too, don’t worry.

      Frontier is another tricky one, and we’re currently discussing how best to advise our customers about the airline’s fee and fare specificities. What do you think we should say?

      Nicer planes is anything that’s a new, modern aircraft, something that’s really spacious thanks to its design, one of the “lower cabin altitude” jets like the A380 or 787, or something particularly remarkable that we don’t cover elsewhere in our Happiness Scores.

      The R for renovation is a little more complicated. It does indeed go away once the entire fleet is finished, at which point we display the new features and amenities. Of course, a renovation is not always a positive: sometimes extra seats are squeezed in, or airlines make an unfortunate choice to go downmarket. Alas that ’twere so! We absolutely do account for older cabins and older planes, as you’ll see with a few searches.

      We’re also working hard on personalization, and I’ll add in your request to be able to personalize our Happy & cheap filter. It’s not quite as easy as a floor and ceiling situation, but we’ll certainly think about it!

      On the flyer ratings, keep an eye out ? we’re changing the way we display those and narrowing down the list of ratings from “all airline” as we do it. (To do that, we really do count on flyers like you using the site to review your journeys!) I can confirm, though, that regionals and mainline carriers are rated differently.

      1. Thank you for engaging substantively with us here. I’m sure cranky can tell you about good and bad ways to interact with people on social media.

        I’m not sure what the ideal way to present Frontier is. above my pay grade.

        Spirit and Ryanair give their own challenges – I see under the picture of the plane, for Spirit you put “Know what you’re getting into – surprise fees (including carry-ons!) & no recline”

        I wonder if that warning could be made more apparent. Perhaps you could also make a matrix of airline fees and link to it, or just give a link to the airline’s list of fees and strongly suggest people look at it.

        Personally, I’d like a tool that lets me pick all the things I want (decent leg room, one checked bag, a reserved seat, and AVOD or wifi+power on a long flight), and then have the search engine tell me all the prices for that particular combination of services.

        You already have drop-down menus that let users filter for things like wifi, if they want. Maybe it would be way too cluttered and hard to program, but I’d greatly enjoy it if you added another drop-down that let you pick your number of checked and carry on bags, etc, and have the prices reflect the result. I might be the only one, though.

  18. This site looks like it may have some potential, especially to the casual, infrequent traveler. I am going to be buying tickets very soon for a DTW-STL roundtrip. For the heck of it, I ran it through Routehappy. It is ranking flights on CRJ higher than on a MD-80. I do understand some people are not big fans of the mad dogs. This being said, I do not understand the rationale behind how they rank their planes. A couple other random flights showed equally vexing results. For myself, I will always choose mainline Delta over any regional service, even if it is a DC-9 vs E170. Still, I think the site does have some promise but a clearer understanding of how the rankings are tabulated would be nice.
    I understand the site is still improving and I will still suggest my mom and other infrequent travelers I know to take a peek at it.

    1. I agree with what counts as a ‘better’ plane being confusing. What might make a plane objectively better is 3-3 seating, seat pitch, IFE, and so on… which are already their own categories. I feel that having a separate rating for the plane as well as all the aspects of the plane we care about is more confusing than anything.

      1. Hi Fred, John here, Routehappy’s director of data. Thanks so much for your feedback! It’s really important that we take your thoughts into account as we evolve Routehappy.

        Better planes are based on our data, experience and flyer reviews.

        Folks love E170 and E190 planes, for example: they’re modern, spacious, with big windows and decent-sized bins ? which wouldn’t be counted in our Happiness Factors. Newer 767-400s, similarly, have those awesome Boeing Signature Interior 777-style bins, which is a real benefit.

        Similarly, the A380 and 787 have things that we don’t cover yet, like extra shoulder room, bigger windows, lower cabin altitude, a quieter cabin and so on. If you’re wondering why we think a particular jet is good, just hover your mouse over it and we explain.

    2. Hi Matt, I’m John Walton, Routehappy’s director of data. I checked our DTW-STL flights, and I’m seeing CRJ and MD-80 flights coming across at the same Happiness Score. Can I ask what dates you were looking for when you saw a CRJ ranked above an MD-80?

      We have a post on our blog for advanced users about how we calculate Happiness Scores and Happiness Factors: http://blog.routehappy.com/happiness-factors-and-happiness-scores/ ? does that answer your questions?

  19. And one more thing that REALLY bugs me: why can’t we use routehappy in private browsing mode in Firefox? (I haven’t tried other browsers.) All the other travel websites, and every other website I remember ever visiting for that matter, work fine with private browsing, so I really doubt that it’s a technical issue.
    The only obvious reason I can think of is that you would be using third-party cookies or scripts, which raises privacy issues that private browsing exists to avoid, and those shouldn’t even be a problem in the first place.

  20. Thanks Bret. This is a new site for me and I sort of like their approach – as described in your post. I’ll give them a look-see – and thanks.

  21. This seems like a great idea. When it comes to flights you tend to get what you pay for, especially if you go with a discount airline.

    Having all these features such as entertainment, leg room, connection times etc all on one screen really helps for decision making.

  22. If you have the time, this is a great tool to sort and define what best suits your needs. For people on the run may not. Not sure how rankings are achieved though.

  23. I really like this! I confess to not having read all the other comments, so I apologize if this has already been discussed.
    Are there any plans to include the flight numbers or codeshare/marketing carrier information in the search results? Some (like me) might find that useful when sorting through the results. Great stuff Routehappy!

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