Buying an airline ticket is way more complicated than it should be.
Airline websites are ugly and complicated, and you can pretty much forget trying to buy a ticket on your smartphone quickly and easily.
That’s what Hopper is trying to fix. It’s already a great iPhone app that finds the cheapest possible flights, and on Monday it’s not only coming to Android for the first time, but it’s also getting a long-awaited feature: the ability to book flights without leaving the app.
If you’re unfamiliar with Hopper, here’s how it works: You tell the app where you want to go, and it shows you a calendar with price breakdowns for round trip flights on different dates. You select the round trip flight you want, and you can either choose to book now or watch the trip.
When you choose to watch the trip, Hopper will alert you when the price is about to drop and let you know the date you should book by before the price goes up. Hopper told Tech Insider that it saves a typical user about $US50 (and in some cases as much as $US1,300) per flight.
I’ve used Hopper for a few flights over the last several months, and it’s been really good at telling me to the right time to book. It’s definitely my go-to app when buying airline tickets.
In the past, Hopper, like some of the other third-party airline ticketing apps, would send you to an external airline website to complete a booking after you’d selected a flight. Now the app is getting a feature called QuickTap booking, which lets you book in a few taps without having to leave the app.
Hopper gave Tech Insider a demo of the feature, and it took about 10 seconds to select a flight, add any extra travellers, and process payment. The main thing Hopper lacks still is integration with frequent flier programs and extra flight options, like seat selection and upgrades.
Both of these features are being worked on and will come in a future update to the app, Hopper executives told Tech Insider. For now, you can use the flight confirmation code that’s sent to your email on an airline website to add those options.
Even if you don’t use QuickTap booking, you should use Hopper just for its price watching skills.
The app’s flight recommendations are powered by algorithms that scan all of the major airlines and look back at years of flight data to pick out price fluctuation trends.
Hopper is free to download and use, but a $US5 commission that goes to the company is worked in on the flights you book through the app. That seems like a fair trade when you’re potentially saving hundreds of dollars on the flight.
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