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The founders of Hipmunk are launching a brand new startup at the moment that’s aimed squarely at taking up their very own former product. Known as Flight Penguin, it’s a Chrome browser extension that concurrently searches a bunch of airline web sites after which presents the ends in a well-known format. Quite than taking a fee or affiliate price, Flight Penguin will as an alternative cost its customers $10 per thirty days — it’s designed for individuals who journey lots (or, since there’s nonetheless a pandemic on, individuals who will imminently journey lots).
Flight Penguin can also be not pulling any punches with regards to its rhetoric: it guarantees that there will likely be “no collusion” with the airline business, particularly noting that “Among the largest journey websites cover flights from you in trade for particular favors from airways.” The location can also be gunning for Kayak, saying it’s going to put that search “on ice.”
Hipmunk was a beloved web site for vacationers in its day, making it straightforward to check flight prices throughout completely different airways. Flight Penguin’s spiky stance towards different journey websites and towards the airline business itself is probably going meant to attraction to the individuals who used the journey web site earlier than it was shut down final 12 months. The stance additionally positions Flight Penguin as a type of tremendous software for vacationers within the know — at launch customers may have to join a waitlist to even attempt it.
To make use of Flight Penguin, you click on on the extension in your Chrome browser software bar and enter your search phrases — it may deal with one-way and round-trip searches for now. Hit enter, and also you’ll watch a timer wheel spin for a minute or so. Whereas that wheel spins, the extension is looking out airline websites for you within the background after which organizing the outcomes. You’ll be able to kind by worth, timing, or by “ache” — Flight Penguin’s time period for a mixture of traits like worth, layovers, timing, and so on. At launch, Flight Penguin will even allow you to seek for flights you’ll be able to pay for with Chase rewards factors.
In some pattern searches throughout a demo, I noticed some outcomes that wouldn’t have been prone to seem on different flight search websites — together with outcomes from airways I didn’t count on and outcomes that blended airways that sometimes wouldn’t go collectively. In a search making an attempt to go from Oakland to Shreveport, for instance, it got here up with an itinerary that mixed Sprit and Allegiant which was considerably cheaper than different choices.
Adam Goldstein and Steve Huffman (higher recognized now because the CEO of Reddit) are the one two buyers — each had been founders of Hipmunk again within the day. Goldstein left Hipmunk in 2018 a while after it was bought by Concur, which shut down the consumer version of Hipmunk just before the pandemic hit last year. The whole Flight Penguin workforce consists of three folks — the extension itself is basically coded by one other Hipmunk expat, Sheri Zada. “I don’t want this to be an enormous firm,” Goldstein says.
Goldstein says that after he and Huffman noticed Hipmunk was shutting down, they wished to create a flight search software “with much less headache, with much less dependence on backroom dealing.” He says that they name it the “no collusion philosophy” and that his firm doesn’t have any relationships with airways.
It’s not precisely stunning that there aren’t offers with airways, as a result of what appears to be occurring behind the scenes is that the browser extension is actually scraping the search outcomes on every particular person airline’s web site. As a result of it’s a browser extension, to the web sites it appears to be like like a standard person doing a standard search, when in reality it’s the Chrome extension clicking the buttons and filling within the fields.
Placing a whole flight search service inside a Chrome extension is intelligent, nevertheless it does require a degree of belief within the firm. Relying on the way it’s written, a Chrome extension can collect a major quantity of details about your looking habits.
We’ll have to kick the tires on the service ourselves earlier than we are able to say if it’s any good. One large query looming over all the enterprise is whether or not the airline business will do something (both technically or legally) to attempt to block the Flight Penguin extension from gathering search outcomes from their websites.