Want to fly both happy and cheap? RouteHappy helps make it happen

The good folks at RouteHappy seem to have been quite busy lately trying to make it easier for passengers to find the best flight option. That’s not necessarily the cheapest, despite what many customers think and it is an uphill battle to convince them otherwise but the good fight is being fought. The latest salvo from RouteHappy is a couple of updates to their search results interface, introducing two new features which make comparison shopping quite a bit easier.


We have side-by-side comparison for nearly every type of product out there, but not for air travel. Well, we used to not have it for air travel. Do a flight search on the RouteHappy site and choose up to four flights for comparison (tick the box at the top right of the search results first to be able to start the compare process); the results look something like this:

Not only are the prices and happiness score readily visible but now comparing the various amenities for the trip is an easy scan, as you scroll down the page:

Hover your mouse over any of the icons and you get more details as to why the flight is rated that way:

Happy & Cheap

Earlier today I found myself in the midst of a conversation on Twitter with John (works for RouteHappy) and Mary (brilliant in the world of in-flight passenger comfort) and we got to discussing how all too often passengers won’t pay even a trivial sum for significantly increased comfort during a trip. In that specific case the example was regular economy versus a very reasonable up-fare to a proper premium economy product. RouteHappy doesn’t tackle that problem quite yet, but they do have a new filter screen which lets you go for not just price but a combination of price and comfort. Here’s a random search I did, sorted by price, and the first few results returned:

Not a lot of happiness there though the round-trip fares are reasonable for the market. Clicking on the “Happy & cheap” filter option, however, changes things up a bit. Rather than 64 options to sift through there are only two:

It turns out that for less than $20 difference in price the happiness factor can be significantly increased (not to mention that JetBlue offers 1 free checked bag, making that total trip cost actually cheaper than AA if you’re paying for bags). Also, the JetBlue flights are non-stop (that adds to the happiness score) and offer more legroom.

I’m still not entirely convinced that many passengers will pay the little bit extra it can sometimes cost to have a significantly better travel experience, but at least now they don’t have the excuse of not knowing that the option was available. RouteHappy is making sure that everyone can know their choices.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. For me what would really be the crime would be not to just know the type of aircraft but to also know the “average” age of the aircraft flying that route……….I think that can be huge factor in determination of “happiness”…..

  2. Individual frame age matters some but not as much as operator and cabin config. The A300s still in operation are the same age as 757s in some cases but the A300s are beat to hell almost universally while the 757s may or may not be, for example.

    Airlines who care about the passenger experience keep the planes in decent shape, even if they’re a bit older.

  3. Hey guys, John Walton here, Routehappy’s director of data.

    Aircraft age is something we take into account when considering how to score an aircraft. It’s not always a clear-cut situation for all the reasons Seth mentioned, and not always universally bad.

    However, having recently flown on a spruced up DC-9 from 1976 (the idea of a DC-9 with Wi-Fi still makes me chuckle), I found it astoundingly noisy, even in row 1.

    The insulation isn’t up to modern levels, the air conditioning makes a racket (and is feeble on the ground, which is just delightful in ATL), and the pressurisation cycling isn’t as smooth as an A320 or 737 (or even an MD-90).

    Are there any other fleets that you know of that are firmly in the “bad” column? We’re always curious to know, here or in email — john at routehappy dot com.

  4. Thanks John. I think your overall concept is wonderful and I have used it on numerous occasions. The other suggestion is to be able to expand the comparisons to regions rather than a specific route…..ie if you we’re to tell me my overseas flight to Europe were to dramatically improve if I started with a short leg to LAX I might change my routing just get that superior overseas flight…..and since places like Nice and Lyon always require a connection it really doesn’t matter to where that connection is……..anyway I do love what you do to improve the travel experience. Thank you! And thank you Seth!

  5. Hi R J. Routehappy absolutely does include what we internally nickname “comfier connections”. As just one example of many, take SFO to Paris.

    Connecting via LAX to get yourself on the AF A380 shows a Happiness Score just 0.1 below the nonstop on the AF 777 (which is one of those awful 3-4-3 on a 777 layouts).

    We think that’s just about right — connecting through LAX is a bit of a pain, so we don’t want to imply that it’s all sparkles, rainbows and getcher-free-unicorn-here, but we also know that 14 hours in relative comfort beats 11 hours nonstop for a whole bunch of folks.

    What d’you reckon?

  6. We just completed a BA FC from SFO-LHR-LYS and while impressed with the service I wouldn’t give the steak to my dog for embarrassment. Most of the flight we slept which really worked out well and the PJs will be part of my favored weekend wear. Haven’t done the return leg. One of the BA disappointments was we had a cabana and spa treatment reserved and because of our LHR novice and the fact we landed in Terminal 5 and connected in Terminal 1 security wouldn’t let thru to the Club. It was not a plus for BA but since we were on our way to 3 weeks in France we were non-pulsed. After our first meal in Lyon we had done brain dump on BA. So next trip to Normandy 70th we are weighting UA or LH to Frankfurt and rent a German car or connect to CDG and get a duck? What we are certain of is every trip and every mistake makes us stronger and smarter for the next trip and ne vous inquietez pas!

  7. I really like this idea. I don’t fly enough to know if carrier X is better than carrier Y, but only on X route flying Y aircraft. And absent that sort of inside data, one chooses based on price and convenience (non stop, type of seat).

    So if a site can do that legwork for me, I’d surely pay for an upgrade. The worry for most people (like me) is they have no idea if paying for an upgrade is good value, or if you are simply being ripped off (and since one’s life experience is often that paying more means you are being ripped off, the natural tendency is to buy the cheapest flight that gets the job done).

  8. @ Routehappy. Give me the direct flight EVERY time. You sleep most of the way – having to fly to different airport and deal with security/luggage/crowds vastly outweighs the lesser creature comforts.

    Give me true lie flat and wake me when I get there every time – on United’s new SFO-CDG route.

    I think you need to drastically review your ratings if an alternate route that is hours longer/involves much more hassle is even remotely similar in “happiness” quotient.

  9. Hi Paul,

    It’s absolutely fine that you want the direct flight, and that’s what our powerful algorithms display with higher Happiness Scores.

    However, we know that many folks take the opposite view to you. Most people know flyers who’ve routed slightly out of their way to fly on a certain aircraft.

    Having just spent two years working in the Australian market, there are many people there who prefer to route via Sydney or Melbourne for full flat or full flat pod (with direct aisle access) seats rather than spending 14+ hours flying on an angle flat.

    At Routehappy, we’re all about exposing information and revealing options that other sites (and even the airlines) don’t give you. If nonstop is the most important thing for you, then we have a single one-click button to filter out anything that isn’t a nonstop.

    Give us a try — we think you’ll like it as much as Seth and other folks do.

  10. @Paul I think my Normandy trip will do exactly your advice……however if I had a chance to do LH FC and connect at FRA I would take that…..but since I am not willing or able to wait until 2 weeks out I’ll take the UA direct if it’s not a 767…….

  11. It’s based on the idea that my wife and I will do one big aspiration all trip to Europe per year and we want to travel premium class and on the premium jet whenever possible……but since we are in SFO the nonstop 767 “might” be in our future……buy I am dragging my heels to the alter.

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