I haven’t really had time to realize how much I miss Hipmunk. The website was shut down in January 2020, just before the pandemic left me spending time canceling trips instead of searching for them. I’m sure that SAP Concur sucked whatever IT knowledge they could from Hipmunk and therefore, it had no further use.
Apparently, Hipmunk’s co-founders Adam Goldstein (CEO until 2018) and Steve Huffman (Reddit’s CEO) were not very pleased when the company they built was unceremoniously shuttered and are planning to do something about it.
Say hello to Flight Penguin.
Instead of launching a new website (which I’d bet has something to do with a non-compete clause), Flight Penguin is a Google Chrome browser extension.
Flight Penguin is based on a subscription model instead of working as an OTA and accepting commissions through referrals. After a 30-day free trial, membership costs $10 a month.
Members will get many of the things they loved from Hipmunk, including searching flights by price, schedule and even pain. The latter means you’ll avoid long layovers, red-eyes, and early morning departures. Isn’t that worth paying a few extra dollars?
They’ve already picked their first target with the slogan:
It’s Time to Put Kayak on Ice
Which of these suggested flights suggested would you rather be on? The two on the left found with Kayak or the afternoon flight found by Flight Penguin for a few more dollars.
Flight Penguin also offers to search for flights in cash or with Ultimate Rewards points, with more points currencies possibly being added down the line.
However, this isn’t a mass-market product like Hipmunk, as was indicated in an interview with Tech Crunch:
Goldstein acknowledged that this is probably “not going to be a mainstream product that 50 million Americans use,” but he’s hoping that it can attract a significant subscriber base of frequent travelers who “value their time and care about the flight-booking experience.”
At the moment, you can sign up for email updates and invitations to join the website. They want to measure the number of people using the service but are planning on a quick rollout once things get going.
Hipmunk showed that competition leads to innovation and is good for the consumer. I’m glad to see the founders are at it again and look forward to seeing what happens. FWIW, I liked the flying chipmunk better than a penguin 🙂
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary