"Similarly, I spoke on a panel a few months ago in Congress on airlines, and Adam Goldstein, the former CEO of flight travel booking site Hipmunk, talked as well. I used to love Hipmunk, but it’s terrible now and I don’t use it. Goldstein explained why. He noted that after the wave of consolidation among airlines during the Obama years, airlines stopped allowing his site to have access to pricing data unless they hid certain routes to consumers. This move to avoid competition destroyed the business and harmed consumers. (It’s also obviously illegal, and the Department of Transportation has antitrust authority it doesn’t use to stop it.) Why did Goldstein speak publicly? Hipmunk sold itself off and he’s no longer there."
I'm not sure it's as obvious as the author assumes. In the shopping sector, there's a concept of 'minimum advertised price' that every online store respects, which is set by manufacturers under the same carrot-stick arrangement (i.e. it's the price the manufacturer believes would drive the value of the entire market sector down if it were common, shopping aggregators aren't allowed to show products below that price, and if they do the manufacturer cuts the high-density pre-digested feed of feature descriptions for the product).
It's clearly anti-market practice (in the sense that it adds information asymmetry between some part of the market and consumers in an attempt to keep prices higher), but it's being done by hundreds to thousands of manufacturers and it's real unclear on what criteria it'd be considered illegal.
Many information asymmetries (even artificial ones) are not illegal, and indeed, even the moral argument for changing the law may not be as cut-and-dry as one assumes at first glance (for example, if sale below M.A.P. drops the bottom out of a market and kills an industry, the product can disappear from common production and the consumer doesn't benefit in the long run).
Is there an example of this happening anywhere in recent history? I ask because it seems absurd to me that there is an industry so fragile that retailers taking a bit less profit would lead to sudden, total collapse. (And doubly absurd this might apply to airlines.)
The claim was "kills an industry", but from what you say, the industry's still going. And you say the critical factor was "kept them away from the good gates", which is exactly the kind of thing that is solved with careful regulation, not deregulation.
I agree a monopoly over a small market niche sometimes happens even in antitrust contexts. That can happen with or without price wars. I also agree monopoly pricing power is bad. (Although not nearly as bad in a niche, because other well-funded competitors get an incentive to step in the more prices get out of line.) But none of this is proof of the death of an industry.
Nobody can dare simply sell a game on the iOS or Google Play store for $5 or $10 anymore, because there's far more "free" ones out there. This has turned lots of people off of these storefronts. The race to the bottom is real.
Except that's patently false. All you have to do is look briefly on the iOS App Store and you'll find plenty of games for $5+. Sure, there are a lot more that are "free (with in-app purchases)", but the idea that no one can make money in the space is just totally absurd.
Furthermore, even if what you said was true, it would not be a genuine example of what the previous poster was describing, because people are still making money off those freemium games. What the other poster was describing was prices going through the floor, no one being able to make money in that space, and the entire industry drying up and blowing away.
Yeah. They tend to have low sales numbers. I worked on one. Just because they exist, doesn't mean they make return on investment. When we switched to a free-to-play model for our next game, we made a lot more money in ads and IAPs.
> because people are still making money off those freemium games
Airlines took up of the practice of nickle-and-diming the customer to get the initial sticker shock down, since that's basically all anybody ever competed on. If that price gets any lower, the amount of extra addons and fees will have to go way up to compensate, or service will get cut.
Just because some people are making money, doesn't mean it's a healthy market. I think most experts would agree that the mobile game market is incredibly unhealthy.
I think your second point depends on how you divide things: clearly there is money in gaming but it does seem like it’s hard to make a game which doesn’t rely on IAP and slot-machine design — so much so that Apple launched an entire service to change the market dynamics.
The mean is also uninformative - for many games the majority of revenue is provided by a small number of 'whales', and their behavior is not representative for a normal user.
Perhaps a histogram would give an accurate impression, but I'm unsure whether app devs and Apple/Google would want to make that info public.
If a drug price drops below the point where there is insufficient margin to create or sustain manufacturing capability, it stops getting made. This is one source of drug shortages and, to my understanding, why the world health org created a list if essential medicines. This would be a list that countries could use to develop availability controls.
I love low airfare as much as anybody but the claim that price transparency leads to price erosion isn't ridiculous. I honestly think that the trend towards lower prices has led to the reduction in quality of the flying experience as the airlines try to accommodate both low prices expected by consumers and high margins expected by Wall Street.
But your point is fair. The capacity rarely disappears completely because of price transparency. Only innovation and obsolescence will completely take that capacity offline.
Are you sure that's the case? Most descriptions of MAP I've seen incorporate a "shared" advertising budget that the manufacturer will stop paying if you don't abide by the MAP. This is a subtle but significant difference in actual implementation, further, while this may be acceptable under current federal law or at least the current interpretation they aren't the sole holders of anti-monopoly jurisdiction.
> (for example, if sale below M.A.P. drops the bottom out of a market and kills an industry
That's an incredibly long tail argument. How likely do you think is to actually happen? Is there any evidence this would occur? Is this endemic to all industry, or just to those who rely on these pricing agreements to hold market position?
If sellers are colluding to keep prices high.. isn't this just a cartel?
(Yes it's basically a scam that their "partner" airline flights are hidden when buying with points.)
This was when I found out that frequent flyer experts choose their "home" airline very carefully. To Delta's credit their points never expire...but if they block the flights I want what good are the points?
Their website offered me an alternative: fly with a different partner airline into the destination country then fly domestic on the airline that flies to the actual destination. That was bookable using (a lot of) points, but would make the journey twice as long.
It is however true that consolidation of airlines gave them more bargaining power. For already established companies with access to a lot of customers (Kayak, Skyscanner, Google Flights etc) that came with pros and cons. But for smaller players like Hipmunk I can easily see how that would shift the balance of power towards the airlines, lowering margins and access to data.
After a couple more tries on different trips I decided that whatever Hipmunk's algorithm was optimizing for just didn't work for me.
Ah the "too big to fail" years where everything consolidated and only got bigger including the big evil banks which took the brunt of the public's fury following the 2008 crisis (and occupy).
It's funny how so much of the regulations put in place had the opposite effect and made running small firms (ie, with more liability than the big ones) became almost impossible. Following the crisis there are now 5 mega banks who control everything and tons of the small banks shutdown and found it impossible to operate in the market with the new conditions,
It's sad that most people's consumer-interfacing perception of markets is often through these megacorps which exist in heavily regulated systems (which everyone then blames their poor experiences on markets), which are often structures which were the result of reactions to bad behaviours of a few big bad guys, which then resulted in policy only designed for the big bad firms. Meanwhile the other 90% of the marketplace, who did nothing wrong and who aren't the same size, were left dealing with the new overhead.
Automotive, airlines, finance, energy, bio/pharma, etc are all getting consolidating into smaller and smaller groups of megafirms or owned by opaque equity groups.
I don't know what the solution is but in so much of dystopian fiction the world is run by a few giant companies who control everything. That sort of system naturally creates a greater disconnect between the needs of the average consumer using the service and the whims and needs of the company (for ex: boycotts become meaningless/ineffective and consumer power lessens).
Meanwhile data is showing the number of new businesses being created are lessening and people are wondering why inequality keeps increasing, when forming small/medium sized companies used to be the main way to become upwardly mobile.
Soon the only option for upwards mobility is working your way up megacorps or making small companies who just get sold off to a bigger firm within the first 10yrs of operations.
I don't mean for this to be a diatribe against regulations but this sort of thing concerns me and regulation is only one of many forces pushing the economy towards this structure. I still think entrepreneurship is forever underrated in inequality discussions but its such a complex problem to confront, I just hope that the future really isn't just endless consolidation and an endless series of political barriers put in place preventing new shops from improving the mistakes of the past (which was a reliable source of progress for a long time).
There are always going to be creative people coming up with new ways to be bad actors, so regulation has to be an evolving constant. But responding with an aversion to regulation is just giving the game to the bad actors.
I'm convinced the "political divide" that the US has long featured, well before the internet and the 2016 election, was largely to due to its size and expansive heterogeneousness.
Meanwhile the liberals look with envy at the governments of smaller states like Scandinavia, Australia, Canada, and others, with by compartision - a far smaller representative governments and very often less direct gov economic intervention (they prefer to gloss over that part) parthttps://www.wikiwand.com/en/Index_of_Economic_Freedom.
The US used to value its state-driven system with priority, the judiciary branch still seems to which I why I adore them - but the same can't be found in confress and senare, and I think it's long due for them to remembrance state sovereignty.
Each state should be as originally designed - individual experimental grounds for which other states to learn. If California or Oregon wants to be a super-liberal mecca - let them be - with aggressive climate policy and what not. Then they provide the world with a functioning model which to copy assuming it works well for them. Same with Texas or New Hampshire...if they really want to adopt a more
I loathe this trend towards the federal government doing and enforcing everything. It defeats a fundamental founding principles of the founding fathers - liberty via strong state sovereignty.
You can involve all the antitrust you want, as long as you don't lower the barrier to entry you're just lying to yourself and adding more useless middlemen.
Even if all of that were easy, you still want anti-trust regulation, because airlines are a cutthroat business. If you start up NerdBird Inc, specializing in SF-Austin flights, it is absolutely in the interests of United and American to undercut you on that route for as long as it takes to drive you out of business. Which will probably not be very long, as airlines are expensive to run and margins are thin.
World history clearly shows that lack of regulation inexorably leads to trusts, cartels, price fixing, price dumping, and all sorts of other anti-competitive agreements. It's trivially easy for a monopoly or cartel to raise their own barriers to entry to maintain their hegemony.
In fact, there's a good argument that the governmental barriers to entry you are lamenting were in fact driven by entrenched businesses as an example of regulatory capture and not a flaw in regulation itself.
If you let businesses get so big that not only are they not regulated, but they have taken over control of regulation itself, you're in a real pickle.
This is sort of like asking, "What is the minimum weight you can put on a seesaw before it tips?" The answer depends entirely what's on the other side.
One way to look at free markets is that they provide economic stability in the same way that tensegrity  structures provide physical stability. They work not because any element provides stability, but because — when very carefully composed together! — the elements exert opposing forces which all balance out leading to a stable system.
The "brilliant idea" of markets is taking advantages of forces that already exist — human selfishness and the desire to profit — and harness that to produce a system with some level of efficiency. The downside is that there's no real way to evaluate market participants in isolation.
I don't have experience in Hipmunk's field, but I do have experience, in another life, with CLECs, "competitive local exchange carriers." CLECs bloomed thanks to deregulation of their industry in the early 1990s, which is great -- but they were virtually all gone within a decade, not due to re-regulation but to the simple fact that achieving scale and profitability was monumentally expensive and difficult. The company I was at, Intermedia Communications, was bringing in close to a billion dollars of revenue annually by the time they threw in the towel and agreed to be purchased... and they still hadn't come close to turning a profit. But by that point the writing was already on the wall, and the industry was collapsing from hundreds of players to dozens. (The rise of wireless, of course, was the final death blow, but the industry was basically undead by then.)
I don't take Hipmunk's demise as a sign of "too much regulation" at all; airlines went through a similar contraction to CLECs, and what killed Hipmunk -- airlines choking off their pricing data -- will act to prevent any new competitors. That's not a function of too much regulation -- it's a function of not regulating the right things. What if airline pricing data was subject to FRAND ("fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory") licensing?
Regulation is absolutely used too often to protect incumbents, but you simply can't blame lack of competition in every industry on too much regulation. Arguably, when implemented correctly, regulation can increase competition, not harm it.
I don't believe it's possible. You can't fight bad actors by hoping they'll just somehow lose. The unregulated "more competition" market quickly turns into a "less competition" market as the most ruthless parties establish dominance through whatever means necessary. Your barriers to entry, in the extreme case, become things like physical intimidation.
Remember that golden era when XMPP was federated across Facebook, Google Talk, AOL, etc. It wasn't perfect but did give users more options.
I don't know how to tell you this, but it definitely is a diatribe against regulations.
Despite the fact that the new regulations were a fraction of what was done in several decades before that time, and the fact that states that are more regulated tend to show no more monopolisation than states that are less regulated (if anything the opposite is true).
What did you expect? Obama was a policy wonk, preferring to craft intricate rulesets and mandates to coddle entrenched players rather than prosecute fraud directly or engage in structural reform. He tours the country now on the corporate talk circuit shouting down reasonable populist policy.
We have a choice to change that now, in the Democratic primary.
or owned by index funds, who really don't care much how management operates.
In my experience and stories I've heard it seems that you can have an amazing time as a junior developer at a startup. If it's a good one. It it isn't, you'll be absolutely miserable and have no support. Similarly, you can be at a large company with a fantastic program for junior developers and learn a lot. And you can also work at an awful large company where you'll learn nothing. "Startup vs large company" feels like a false choice in many ways.
Still, my experience and my circle is limited so I suspect some might have had the opposite experience.
Building features in a large, existing codebase, in the robust tooling context of a big company, is nothing like building services from the ground up.
I think a larger company is probably more likely to have an established mentorship program in place for he engineers rather than a startup.
I also needed to take three months of disability and I received 100% of my pay during those three months (and even kept accruing PTO) because my established company provided me with short term (and long term) disability insurance.
How did this work? From what I've seen, early stage startups always want senior only.
I have my opinions which I will not share for why Hipmunk stagnated but I will say, it had nothing to do with scaling or technical obstacles.
I've been in a junior start-up role twice very early in my career. It worked out for me, but I wouldn't really advise it in an era of Google/MS hiring massive amounts of fresh grads with high comp.
One of Hipmunk's founders spoke to a course that I was in about their experience as a founder and how they were running their business. A few weeks later, a well known founder of another travel search company visited the class and said outright that if Hipmunk did have any success, that they would copy those features and that Hipmunk couldn't threaten their position. That is exactly what happened.
To boot, Hipmunk was acquired and shuttered by another travel conglomerate.
I kinda disagree. Hipmunk did not have access to the data that gave users a complete pictures on all travel routes. Even if they had a nice UI/ux, the underlying data was incomplete.
People naturally gravitated to sites where they found a route they wanted for the price they wanted.
The only way to prevent this is with patents.
There are other ways. Network effects. Economies of scale. Branding. Arguably regulatory capture.
Looking at the three alternatives from all the other comments (google, matrix and skyscanner), they seem 5 or so years behind the times.
News story from 2002: https://www.cnet.com/news/southwest-soars-without-travel-sit...
That's not a reason to stop supplying data entirely.
This is an API where the airline effectively charged a negative cost for use. If they decided it was too negative, why not try adjusting the price?
Do Sap Concur stand to gain by closing Hipmunk down? Why would they not take money for something they were going to destroy anyway?
I hope that the team are able to quickly find other roles and don't find their lives too disrupted by this.
I don't know any other aggregator who does it this well.
Is there any other service allowing the same?
As someone who's dabbled in flights bookings (BookWithMatrix) and now am working on a travel startup (Wanderlog, https://wanderlog.com, a Google Docs/Trips for travel planning), flights are just not that profitable. In North America, you'd be lucky to get 1-2% commissions. In the rest of the world, it's a bit better, but Hipmunk was definitely North America-first.
Concur never was a consumer company and Hipmunk never was going to make a ton for them, so it was just a matter of time. RIP -- a lot of their best features (not just showing the cheapest flights, but the "Best" based on agony) have made it into all major meta-search tools, so it's not for nothing!
(Also, I personally use a combination of ITA Matrix, Google Flights, and Skyscanner now. ITA Matrix still has time bars, if you loved that UI; Google Flights is just so fast, and Skyscanner searches low-cost carriers that Google Flights sometimes misses)
How’s PHP holding up in 2020? Are you using a big framework? Are you using it because it’s what you’ve always known or did you choose it deliberately over other options?
I’m genuinely curious. Not meant to be negative. I’ve always wondered how well PHP scaled for others.
There really was (is?) no faster environment to get started with a single dynamic page that can submit a form and display data from a database. I don't have experience with the more recent frameworks, but I'm sure they're very mature now.
> ITA Matrix still has time bars, if you loved that UI
ITA Matrix doesn't seem to do anything like Hipmunk's UI.
> flights are just not that profitable. In North America, you'd be lucky to get 1-2% commissions. In the rest of the world, it's a bit better, but Hipmunk was definitely North America-first.
Why is that not enough? Does 1-2% not cover the (hopefully minimal) costs of performing such searches and calculations?
If you want to make money in travel search, there's a lot more money in commissions for hotel bookings than in air.
(I'm not saying 1-2% commission should or shouldn't cover the costs, just pointing out what goes into these engines).
I'm sure the margins are low but given the competition you need high volume to really win and it's a highly competitive and fragmented space.
The UI alone is only part of the business model.
Since I only use Hipmunk, which alternative would you say has the most comparable to the "agony" sort?
Google Flights also does this for the first few results it returns, before returning a bunch of flights in price sort order.
I want to know if I have to pay $30 each way to check a bag, or try to pack something that will fit in overhead, not trigger a TSA panic, and then struggle past everyone else's delays in security and boarding because they wanted to save $30 and are trying to carry on a bag they can barely lift over their head.
I want to know if they have created some "special class" that you have to pay $50 to be in, or wait twice as long at poorly staffed "regular" desks.
I want to know if they're skipping included meals on longer flights in favor of charging inflated prices.
I want to know if they're charging more for more desirable seats, both in location and comfort.
I want to know if they paywalled any other things that used to be standard.
With SW if you buy the tickets together, and check in first possible moment (24h before), you get assigned the same boarding position, usually a early B number. Then you board together and likely half of the plane is likely still empty when you board.
People also sometimes say they are reserving the seat for someone. Have never bought priority boarding.
Some do, some don't based on the route.
United decided to start bringing back free small snacks.
Also they brought back free wine/beer and 2 free bags in economy. *
Well they did that on my ORD-IAH-SCL-VAL/EZE-IAH-ORD route. But they don't do it for the Euro routes. It's really difficult to determine what your final cost is, and that is intentional. If I book a flight on Emirites, it's pretty easy to know what I'm getting.. but when compariing it to another airline, who knows what's the better value.
> I personally use a combination of ITA Matrix, Google Flights, and Skyscanner now
May I recommend http://azair.eu/ for low cost searches in EU? The UI is a bit weird when doing a one way as the label on the date pickers do not change but the meaning does, one is the earliest departure the other is the latest departure instead of return latest.
Trivago, Kayak, etc would say otherwise. Yes margins are slim, but this is a classic case of why no UI/UX will ever trump mass distribution. OTAs are basically the walmart of the digital world.
Trivago is in the hotel business, which has better margins. Some sites like Expedia will actually take a loss on a flight if you book it with a hotel or rental car, which they make a profit on.
Kayak (and the rest of the Priceline/Booking.com group) takes a much more advertising driven model. You'll notice the site has lots of pushes to sign you up for their various mailing lists that yield long term reoccurring revenue on airline credit cards and travel packages.
This comment nail it dead-on. Flights are a loss leader. It's the gateway to more profitable travel services like booking hotels, which ironically have shrinking margins over the last few years.
There's no need for an OTA middleman when a hotel can build a direct relationship with the customer (via loyalty programs).
1. Private negotiated rates - medium-large companies have bulk rate discounts individually negotiated with various chains that can be integrated into the search flow.
2. Policy management - rules like C-level staff can fly business class, or regular employees may fly premium economy for flights over X hours, etc.
3. Expense report integration.
These things are important enough that most large companies are willing to subject their employees to a subpar travel search experience to get this. (I work for a Concur competitor but freely admit that our search experience is also subpar compared to consumer sites).
It does have some competition when it comes to expenses: Expensify, Netsuite, Salesforce and homegrown stuff come into mind.
I travel pretty frequently so I often just call American Express (who acts as a Concur reseller for my company) directly to do the corporate bookings rather than futzing with Concur. I usually find the route I want ahead and then call Amex to price it out/book it. American Express is great — tho my company is big enough to have dedicated CSRs for our account, which helps. Concur is just frustrating.
That said, I will say that the worst parts of Concur are usually employer-made decisions. If your employer has really restrictive travel policies, that makes the Concur experience even worse. For instance, I’ve had the system insist I book an indirect flight that costs more than a direct because of how something is coded, with no way to override. My current employer has very decent travel policies so that’s not an issue, but if it is, it makes the terrible UX and bad search even worse.
And, yeah, if I did more traveling I'd probably just call up our travel agent. But I'd still be on the hook for cash expenses.
When I didn’t fly all the time, I didn’t care about loyalty. But I did 160,000 actual airline miles (far more FF miles earned) last year (most of them on one alliance, but enough to get lowest tier status on two others) last year and at this point, I’ll pay extra for Delta because I get auto-upgraded to Comfort+ at booking, I have a very good baggage allowance regardless of service class (assuming I’m main cabin and not basic economy, which I wouldn’t do anyway), I have a lounge membership, and I get frequent upgrades. At that point, my comfort and those benefits are way more important than saving a few dollars across airlines.
And that’s the problem with these types of services, I think. They cater to the occasional traveler who doesn’t travel enough to make a profit (unless you’re Google and you own the software everyone else has to license), whereas the frequent travelers are either booking through corporate tools or directly with one airline because they have loyalty — or both.
Catering to then majority of flyers who fly once a year, when margins are what they are on flights, is a tough business. It is interesting that Hipmunk's parent company got a piece of my $60k in travel last year (most of that was work, maybe $2500 was personal), because that’s where your percentages can matter.
I think for corporate travel management, the fee structure is usually $X per transaction, rather than a percentage of the fare, although I can't speak to exactly how Concur charges, and it'll differ depending on the size of the customer. Average ticket prices for corporate airfare are likely considerably higher than for consumer, since that's where the majority of business class and refundable tickets are sold.
I've had a number of travel startup ideas but all were held back by access to data.
Booking has made money off travel hand over fist this past decade. It's highly competitive, sure, but for a reason since hotels pay massive premiums to these websites to drive sales.
My favorite part was how the results were listed by "agony", defined as a trade-off between price and length of the trip.
Usually when wanderlust strikes me, or I'm going somewhere terrible and want to inject "somewhere better" as a stopover, I find myself there contemplating the "ifs"
Also Kiwi and Google Flights let you make wide searches but their efficiency drops so low they’re basically useless in my experience. You’re better off searching day by day.
Hipmunk never returned the best rates or routes for me so I had to drop it.
Lately I’m really into dohop.com because it shows routes that others don’t (South East Asia)
Although it doesn't always return the best results if it has to go through thousands of routes (e.g. you specify many origin & destination airports and don't restrict by airline).
> We guarantee to beat your quote by more than our fee otherwise our service is entirely FREE.
This used to Orbitz's specialty--save $15 with a 19 hour lay over. And they used to promote this by saying they had better search results. But, hey, they got rich off of Google, so probably the right move.
I have occasionally used Google Flights, but it seemed to have fewer knobs and I could not find any features that made me want to stay. The only competitors I have consistently but rarely used is Skiplagged, since it performs a kind of search (of somewhat dubious morals) that can't be done with Kayak.
A big part of what made Kayak good was that it was (is?) a solid data product - basically a gigantic farm of scrapers and crawlers glommed together with direct-from-provider (airline, hotel etc) data ingestion pipelines and coherence protocols that flowed into massive unified local cache databases. All this to ensure that you, as a customer, saw the most up to date and widest variety of information possible.
When Kayak IPO'd, it was around the time that ITA software (massive airline data provider you've never heard of) got sold to google, and there was a lot of hand wringing over whether this'd spell the end for Kayak. But even then it looks like ITA supplied only 42% of flight data (check out the S1 filing https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1312928/000119312510...), the rest from other data providers (Amadeus etc), online travel agencies, or individual airlines.
So given that, Hipmunk's focus on "we're gonna make the UX so much better" was admirable (especially given the state of a lot of the competition), and it pushed everyone to do better in that regard, but always felt a bit naive as a business strategy to me, since I think most people will pick the site with the slightly worse UI and better / cheaper / non-stale flights rather than the other way round. Especially in a non-premium race to the bottom industry like online tickets. And getting quality data takes a big team and lots of money and infrastructure, as well as lots of business relationships.
But I always thought they were a cut above a lot of the other competitors which were bad UIs mangled with dozens of ads thrown together in a slapshod way on top of the same 1-2 data providers.
I'll miss hipmunk's time chart when trying to plan flights.
Personally, I don't know what else to use instead.
I love the product and have even used it within the last few days. Thank you Adam and Steve for building something I used for 9 years.
So I tried using Hipmunk yesterday. It felt tired to me for some reason. I ended up booking on Amex platinum travel. Who do people use for booking flights?
They direct you to a place in the airport where you can guy a Visa gift card with cash and then pay for what you need from Delta.
I don't know if that's true of other carriers these days, or not.
Yes, it is silly you can "avoid it" by other card methods. But at least theres a longer trail associated with that, and probably puts you at a lower risk of being labeled as a concern.
She got pulled aside by security every single time for extra pat-downs and such. It got so frequent that they knew her by name, but they still went through the routine every single time.
She's very glad not to have that job anymore, but for other reasons.
If it's through my usual airline I just book through the site or app, it takes a few seconds as they already have all of my information from pre-check to billing. Otherwise Google Flights is a great search interface and gives you a link to book directly through the airline.
I look at google flights, see the upcoming flights, don’t book because I don’t know how long it will take to get to the airport.
Driving to the airport, I call Delta, almost book their flight until they casually mention it’s delayed 8 hours.
Call United, it’s a 30 minute wait to book a ticket.
I put my Tesla in auto steer and pull out the app. Fucking thing keeps reminding me to touch the steering wheel. Eventually the Tesla revokes my auto steer privileges for the rest of the drive. Thanks. A. Lot.
I scream into the airport, while talking to Amex travel. There’s an united flight boarding in 20 minutes. Amex tells me that due to the inherent delay in the online ticketing process, to buy my ticket at the airport.
And that’s why you might have someone who couldn’t use the website to book a trip.
They say you don’t know what the guy in front of you could be dealing with. I was that guy that day.
I called Amex back and they expedited the ticketing. United never called me back after I left my number earlier for their automated call back service for the 30 minute hold time.
May I ask why that wasn't your first choice for this particular incident?
Most of the airlines like to complain that people are only focused on the price. They market themselves and try to make themselves look at price. They don't offer a lot of transparency on their product and they complain why people are using their site as intended. (Or avoiding it with comparisons)
Might be a generational thing.
What I want out of airline aggregators, and what GFlights seems to do alright at:
* Multi-city itineraries
* Source and destination searches based on region/airport group (e.g. "AUS or DFW or IAH -> MUC or LHR)
* Date range searching for flexible schedules and pricing
I want a flight from somewhere in Texas to somewhere in western europe, then to Dublin, then back to somewhere in Texas. I want to go for 9-13 days in February or March. Show me results by price.
GFilghts seems to do this pretty well. I used to like Hipmunk, but I don't know if it had any competitive advantage over other systems mentioned here. They certainly pushed the envelope, even influencing the tools we name today.
And to other comments, it is indeed unfortunate that pricing data is so obscured by airlines. Another instance in which the government should mandate more transparency.
I would have paid a 2-5% HipMunk fee to not have to go to all of the individual websites..