There are so many options for searching the best airline fares (maybe too many?). In a previous column we reviewed my core airfare search applications; Momondo, Google Flights and Scott’s Cheap Flights who still stand out as my favorites. I thought it would also be beneficial to do a deeper dive into another application that’s emerging as the most popular and why.
Airline pricing is actually influenced by a complex mix of factors; competition, load factor (average % of seats sold), type of aircraft used, fuel cost and the traditional economics of supply and demand.
Multiply this data by the number of airlines, routes flown, seats available and you get an insanely large number. The data processing requirements to manage the airline business are huge and at times beyond comprehension.
Hopper launched its application (Apple iOS and Android) 2 years ago with the idea that there are patterns embedded in the database airlines use to set prices. The ability to extract coherent information from this mess of numbers is a great example of Artificial Intelligence (AI) maturing into a mainstream technology.
Hopper uses a combination of historical data with current conditions to predict the pricing trends of routes you have chosen to track. They monitor as many as 15 billion flight prices per day to get you the best deals.
Here’s the summary from Hopper, which makes it easy to use:
- First, search for a trip by tapping dates on the color-coded calendar.
- Then, get Hopper’s prediction about when your flight will be the cheapest. Hopper will recommend whether you should wait or book.
- If we say WAIT, tap the binoculars to watch. Hopper will keep an eye on that trip for you and send you notifications the instant prices drop. If Hopper says BUY, choose your flights and book in just a few taps and a swipe. Save your passenger and payment info so future flight booking is even quicker.
- Since Hopper launched, our data-science team has collected a huge historical archive of trillions of flight prices. We analyze that data to share with our users through insightful predictions that consistently perform with 95% accuracy.
- Booking with Hopper is quick, easy, and secure. These flights are real. These prices are real. There are no hidden fees. Plus, Hopper is an accredited travel agency, which means there are real humans behind Hopper who can help you with your booking.
For travelers with flexible dates and destinations, Hopper integrated a feature originally called Flex Watch.
This allows a search for the best deals over any range of dates (even months), length of travel and destinations that can vary from a city to a region, even continents.
If you’re particularly adventurous you can set your destination to “anywhere’.” Just remember that the absolute lowest deals are priced that way for a reason. Be careful; some itineraries can be gruesome ordeals and a true test of endurance.
Applications like these can also be trained to offer results based on your likes and dislikes which narrows the predictions to be more relevant to your desires.
This also makes Hopper algorithms more accurate for everyone by analyzing the preferences of all Hopper users.
Thanks to these amazing advances, the long nights of searching for the best deal, endlessly staring at your computer screen, seems to be coming to an end. Save that brainpower for something more useful!
Share with us how you found the best airfare and what it took to book it. There are so many of us who can benefit.