Skip the Flight Agony With Hipmunk

Anyone who has ever had to search for a flight online can understand the agony that often goes into such a search. Whether it’s a lack of flights that fit your itinerary or having to search through fifty pages of results, online flight searches are often cumbersome at best. Luckily, Hipmunk was created as a way for users to have a significantly easier time searching for flights that fit their needs.

Hipmunk is an app that allows users to search for flights, much like any of the other flight search website out there. Hipmunk, however, brings a clean user interface and a very unique method of search. Read on to learn more about the ease of use that Hipmunk provides as well as what it’s good for and not so good for.

The Basics

Hipmunk provides users a few different ways to search for flights. In order to do a standard one destination flight search, simply input the destination and the airport you’ll be flying from. Add the appropriate dates, choose which class you would like to fly and you’re good to go. If your departure or return could have some leeway, you can tap the plus and minus arrows to let Hipmunk find the best flight for you in that window of time.

A basic flight search.

There is also a simple way to book a trip that has multiple destinations. Again, simply input the airport you’re flying out of and your final destination for each leg of the journey. Select the dates you will be flying out of each location and Hipmunk can easily provide you with a list of flights.

Searching for multiple stops on a trip.

Hipmunk also offers a way for users to search for hotels. Hotel searches work in the same way, providing a cohesive user experience no matter what you’re searching for. Simply input the dates of the stay, where you’ll be visiting, the number of people in your room and the number of required rooms and Hipmunk provides a list of easy to navigate options.

A hotel search.

What Hipmunk Does Well

Let’s begin by talking about how the search results work in Hipmunk. First of all, Hipmunk is a meta-search site. That means that unlike other flight search engines, Hipmunk sends you directly to the airlines, eliminating the costs typically associated with the middle man mentality of most other flight search engines.

The search results that Hipmunk provides also utilize a different algorithm to choose the order in which they are displayed. Traditional flight search engines sort the flights solely by the lowest price. Hipmunk uses what they call an “agony algorithm.” This algorithm calculates price, duration and number of stops to figure out the least agonizing flight and lists them in that order. Cost is definitely still an important factor, but if there is a flight that only costs 20 dollars more and goes non-stop rather than having a six hour layover, Hipmunk places that flight at the top of the list. Hotels are ordered using the “ecstasy algorithm” which takes price, amenities and reviews into account when ordering the search results.

Search results ordered by "agony."

The user interface provided by Hipmunk is also very worth noting. Many flight search engines have a confusing interface with far too many things going on. Hipmunk features a clean and simple interface that makes it easier for users to find what they need and search through flights as quickly as possible.

A few last things that Hipmunk provides are a “hidden results” option. Hipmunk automatically hides any flights that no one would purchase unless they had to. For example, if there is a direct flight that costs 500 dollars and a flight with a layover that costs 600 dollars, Hipmunk automatically hides the flight that they consider more agonizing. Finally, this app realizes the importance of in-flight wi-fi, and shows you which flights have wi-fi directly in the search results.

Check if your flight has wi-fi directly from the search results.

Where It’s Lacking

For all the good that Hipmunk does, there are still some areas that it’s lacking in. First is international flights. Hipmunk just doesn’t turn up as many results in international searches as other flight search engines do. Hipmunk almost always has the best results for domestic flights when compared to other search engines, but while Expedia turned up nine results under a certain price for an international flight, Hipmunk only turned up three.

Finally, the options provided for when there is some flexibility in travel dates are a bit lacking. Hipmunk allows you to search for flights up to two days after the selected date. I do wish that there was a bit more range provided in being able to select dates, but it’s a slight problem and not much of an issue in the grand scheme of things.

Final Thoughts

I love Hipmunk. Between living across the country from my family and being in a long-distance relationship, I spend a lot of time looking at flights. Hipmunk is almost always my go to option for flight searches, and nine times out of ten I book a flight found on Hipmunk. Their search results are fantastic, the interface is great to use and their customer service has been wonderful every time I’ve needed it.

While there are a few minor problems with Hipmunk, I will always recommend Hipmunk over any other flight search engine I’ve ever tried. However, there are always new flight search engines being created, so I’m intrigued to hear your thoughts on Hipmunk. Do you use Hipmunk or is there another service that you prefer? Share your thoughts below.

Editor’s Note: I thought I’d add, as an American living in Thailand, that Hipmunk actually works great for international flights, even for flights that won’t connect through the US. Many flight search engines won’t work for flights fully outside of the US (say, Bangkok to Singapore), but Hipmunk works great for it. It does show all prices in US dollars, though, so it might not be as good for non-Americans! And with most of my relatives living an ocean away, and being in a long-distance relationship myself, travel sites are definitely an important part of life!


A flight and hotel search engine that provides search results for users utilizing cost, duration and stops rather than just cost.