CheapAir.com has completed an upgraded flight-shopping
interface that enables customers to make side-by-side comparisons of available
fares, ancillary fees and amenities.
"We think this is a very unique offering, both in the
way we show you all the fare brands and in the level of detail we have on the
inflight services," said CheapAir CEO Jeff Klee.
On search results, the site offers the usual information -- fares,
departure times and flight duration. But the upgraded CheapAir also allows
shoppers to easily view lots of additional details for each flight, including
bag fees in each fare class and how much legroom is offered. The interface also
gives specific details on a flight's WiFi, showing if it is served by an
air-to-ground network or a satellite, how much it costs and how the network
measures up to other airline WiFi services from a speed standpoint.
Similarly, the interface provides rich details on a flight's
in-seat entertainment offerings, listing the size of in-seat screens, the price
of video and music content and whether passengers get live TV.
Bundled fares are also displayed in search results.
Klee said CheapAir, which sells approximately 1,200 tickets
per day, has implemented the upgrades over the course of the last nine months,
working in many cases with airlines to compile the information. Like all OTAs,
CheapAir doesn't sell Southwest tickets. Also, Delta chooses not to do business
on the site.
Klee stressed the uniqueness of the website's new "Compare
Flight Options" function, which allows shoppers to visually compare a long
list of details about competing flights within a single screen. With the
Compare function, the airfare, ancillary fees, exchange policies, seat
configurations and amenities are all displayed side-by-side.
Travel technology analyst Henry Harteveldt of Atmosphere Research
said he hasn't seen an OTA that offers a comparison function as good as
"I think that it's very smart in terms of how they
present this," he said. "Sometimes the cheapest flight isn't the best
option. There may be something that is $10 more or $5 more that is the best
Klee said that helping travelers make that choice was his
goal in enhancing the site.
"We think it is needed now. Buying airline tickets isn't
what it used to be, when a seat was just a seat," he said. "So many
times now, by paying a little bit more you can get a better flying experience."