Flight-Hacking Startups Want You to Fly for Cheap
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because who doesn’t want to pay half-price for a flight?
By Zara Stone
Want to fly from Milan to New York via Paris for $177? Who wouldn’t? But how often do you find a deal like that — or manage to book it in time? Some startups are trying to cash in on your laissez-faire attitude by offering a concierge-style approach to deal busters.
Zachary Cohn got that flight for $177, and the green-eyed reaction he received from friends — who didn’t get the deal in time — spawned the idea for a business. The 27-year-old launched Amazing Airfare in 2015, a $7.99 monthly service that offers his 300-plus subscribers a “flight concierge” experience. It’s basically a Netflix for flight bargains, where users receive emails and texts about breaking deals — around five or fewer a month, so you’re not bombarded. “People check flight websites once or twice a day and stop,” Cohn tells OZY. “I monitor these sources so you don’t have to.” Cohn says any dedicated Googler could do what he does — if they had the patience. He alerts people to flights only when they can save “50 percent or more,” because “any website can give you 20 percent off.” He also doesn’t tailor flights to a city; it’s West Coast or East Coast.
The app displays a selection of inviting destinations, and you swipe left — like Tinder for traveling.
But there are other — cheaper — ways. Like signing up for custom fare alerts from Kayak or Airfarewatchdog, suggests SmarterTravel executive editor Anne Banas. Alerts will let you know when the price drops, and they’ll be tailored to your needs. Without a monthly charge.
Another startup changing the travel space is Hitlist, a free app (monetized through affiliate links) that doesn’t just want to get you from A to B — it wants to help you figure out where B is. And how about C, D and E? Released in 2014, the app displays a selection of inviting destinations, and you swipe left — yes, it’s like Tinder for traveling — to add them to your wish list. CEO Gillian Morris says they prioritized the destination above the date, as travelers can find it hard to search for those details. You get alerts based on your chosen locales, and you can share them with Facebook. It’s easy to use and visually gorgeous, and it gets new areas on your radar. “We want to inspire our users to see a great deal and book on the spot,” Morris says.
Then there’s Seeusoon — see you soon, get it? — which is focused on helping to simplify travel plans for groups and lovers connecting across the world. Launched in 2015, it wants to be your travel matchmaker, taking away the stress of coordinating multiple flights. It will suggest destinations to visit, based on both parties’ availability.
Howie Rappaport from the Frugal Travel Guy thinks these “randomized travel-advice services” best fit the millennial generation, who want to see the world and don’t care about what order they do it in. But many people with busy lifestyles or other commitments can’t always book a last-minute deal.
If you’re flexible, these services can be great. If you’re not, well, they help you get that daily dose of #earthporn.