'Hipmunk' Travel Site Streamlines Reservations, We Go Hands On
Unlike most travel sites, Hipmunk's homepage is refreshingly straightforward and clutter-free. All Hipmunk asks of you is to enter the starting and ending points of your voyage, along with your departure and return dates -- no superfluous hotel or rental car options, just the essentials. You can also select from a pre-populated list of 14 airlines -- in case you want to prioritize preferred carriers ahead of others. Once you've entered your parameters, Hipmunk processes your request, and displays available flights in a surprisingly intuitive graphic.
All flights are shown in an expanded t-bar graph, with time intervals running across the uppermost horizontal axis, and price information on the y-axis. Each flight is represented by a bar, which is color-coded according to its airline. In the event that a given itinerary involves a layover, the stop will be represented by a break in the colored bar, along with the airport code of where you'll have to kill some time. In just a few seconds, then, you can get a pretty good idea of how long a given flight will last, how many stops it would involve, and how much it'll cost you.
As you'd expect, you can sort the results according to price, duration, number of stops, or a variable that Hipmunk calls "agony," which it describes as a "combination of price, duration and number of stops." Best of all, the results are displayed on a single, full page, making it way easier to compare options. If you want any of the nitty-gritty details, just click on a given bar and another window will appear within the page. Here, you'll find flight numbers, precise layover durations, and exact departure or arrival times -- all the information, essentially, that takes up so much space on other travel sites. In the unlikely event that you find yourself confused, you can directly consult one of Hipmunk's personnel via a 'Live Help' chat box at the bottom of the page.
Once you've constructed your full itinerary, Hipmunk will automatically re-direct you to Orbitz, where you can complete the transaction. It may seem silly to jump through all these hoops -- only to be redirected to another travel site -- but that's also what makes Hipmunk so great. As TechCrunch notes, the site has devoted all of its energies to one thing: searching for flights. And, with its easily navigable layout and common-sense design, it's certainly made the search substantially less confusing -- and, thankfully, less stressful. [From: Hipmunk; via: TechCrunch]