Smart Spending

Flying Soon? Maybe Picking the Lowest Fare Is Not the Best Idea

A few months ago, we talked about ways to travel more comfortably by checking sites like SeatGuru and TripAdvisor to find the most comfortable seats when flying and ways to find out how to book the best seat. Now there’s a site that takes that concept to the next level.

Routehappy is a newly launched website whose theory is that “all flights are not created equal”. Yes, a great fare is a powerful motivator in booking an airline ticket. But comfort and amenities and connections and reliability are also factors as well and that’s what Routehappy focuses on

Whether you’re a frequent flyer or an occasional traveler, we all have experienced the phenomenon of feeling like we’ve been crammed into ever smaller airline seats and then having the doofus in front of us recline their seat so that your precious little space to stretch out is now gone. Or discovering that your e-reader or tablet or MP3 player is about to run out of power and wondering why there’s no power port at your seat. Or why some planes have free Wi-Fi and others don’t.  Well, Routehappy factors all of those things into their matrix.

They’ve developed what they call Happiness Scores that are based on getting you where you need to be via a combination of a good airfare, more comfortable planes, better seats, a schedule that works for you and other amenities. For years, airlines viewed a seat as a seat. You had first class seats and economy seats and those were your only choices. But they woke up in recent years and realized that they could start charging more for certain types of economy seats, whether it be for more legroom, or sitting on the aisle.

With Routehappy, some of the information comes from aggregating information on the type of planes, seating configurations and other factors. But some of the information comes from real-world reviews from fellow travelers who have flown the same flight on the same planes you’re looking at and are offering their (hopefully unbiased) opinions on what’s good and what’s not so good. When you book a flight – whether it’s on your airline’s own website or through a travel site like Expedia or Travelocity – you’re never offered just one option. You’re given different times and different prices and the opportunity to fly non-stop or make a connection. But if you’re given those options, Routehappy thinks you should be given other options to help you make a decision.

If you’ve got a cross-country or international flight, what might be most important to you is how much legroom and seat width you’ve got. Not only is it a comfort factor but it’s a health factor as well. Being crammed into a seat for a long period of time and not being able to move around is one of the major symptoms for deep vein thrombosis (DVT). (DVT is when blood clots form in your calves if you’re not able to move around). So if you can manage to find a comfortable seat with more legroom so you can stretch out and move your legs, not only will you be most likely less tired and less stressed when you land, you’ll also be doing your health a favor. And using Routehappy can help you achieve finding that type of seat.

Of course, you’ve got to be willing to have some sense of flexibility when looking at your options and perhaps be willing to fly with a different carrier than you normally do. But now you’ve got another tool in your travel arsenal to help you decide what’s best for you when you fly. And you can never have too many tools.