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Flight Penguin is a new flight search Chrome app that promises ‘no collusion’

Flight Penguin is a new flight search Chrome app that promises ‘no collusion’
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Flight Penguin is a new flight search Chrome app that promises ‘no collusion’

Flight Penguin is a new flight search Chrome app that promises ‘no collusion’

The founders of Hipmunk are launching a new startup right now that’s aimed squarely at taking up their very own former product. Referred to as Flight Penguin, it’s a Chrome browser extension that concurrently searches a bunch of airline web sites after which presents the ends in a acquainted format. Reasonably than taking a fee or affiliate price, Flight Penguin will as an alternative cost its customers $10 per 30 days — it’s designed for individuals who journey a lot (or, since there’s nonetheless a pandemic on, individuals who will imminently journey a lot).

Flight Penguin is additionally not pulling any punches relating to its rhetoric: it promises that there shall be “no collusion” with the airline trade, particularly noting that “A number of the largest journey websites cover flights from you in trade for particular favors from airways.” The location is additionally gunning for Kayak, saying it should put that search “on ice.”

Hipmunk was a beloved website for vacationers in its day, making it straightforward to check flight prices throughout completely different airways. Flight Penguin’s spiky stance towards different journey websites and towards the airline trade itself is possible meant to attraction to the individuals who used the journey website earlier than it was shut down final yr. The stance additionally positions Flight Penguin as a form of tremendous software for vacationers within the know — at launch customers can have to enroll in a waitlist to even strive it.

To make use of Flight Penguin, you click on on the extension in your Chrome browser software bar and enter your search phrases — it might deal with one-way and round-trip searches for now. Hit enter, and also you’ll watch a timer wheel spin for a minute or so. Whereas that wheel spins, the extension is looking airline websites for you within the background after which organizing the outcomes. You may type by value, timing, or by “ache” — Flight Penguin’s time period for a mixture of traits like value, layovers, timing, and many others. At launch, Flight Penguin may even allow you to search for flights you’ll be able to pay for with Chase rewards factors.

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In some pattern searches throughout a demo, I noticed some outcomes that wouldn’t have been prone to seem on different flight search websites — together with outcomes from airways I didn’t anticipate and outcomes that combined airways that usually wouldn’t go collectively. In a search making an attempt to go from Oakland to Shreveport, for instance, it got here up with an itinerary that mixed Sprit and Allegiant which was considerably cheaper than different choices.

Adam Goldstein and Steve Huffman (higher identified now because the CEO of Reddit) are the one two buyers — each had been founders of Hipmunk again within the day. Goldstein left Hipmunk in 2018 a while after it was bought by Concur, which shut down the buyer model of Hipmunk simply earlier than the pandemic hit final yr. The complete Flight Penguin staff consists of three individuals — the extension itself is largely coded by one other Hipmunk expat, Sheri Zada. “I don’t want this to be a large firm,” Goldstein says.

Goldstein says that after he and Huffman noticed Hipmunk was shutting down, they needed to create a flight search software “with much less headache, with much less dependence on backroom dealing.” He says that they name it the “no collusion philosophy” and that his firm doesn’t have any relationships with airways.

It’s not precisely stunning that there aren’t offers with airways, as a result of what appears to be occurring behind the scenes is that the browser extension is basically scraping the search outcomes on every particular person airline’s web site. As a result of it’s a browser extension, to the web sites it seems like a regular consumer doing a regular search, when actually it’s the Chrome extension clicking the buttons and filling within the fields.

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Placing a complete flight search service inside a Chrome extension is intelligent, nevertheless it does require a stage of belief within the firm. Relying on the way it’s written, a Chrome extension can collect a vital quantity of details about your looking habits.

Goldstein says his firm is not going to acquire or share any use knowledge past what’s essential to get fee info for the subscription (and a few primary analytics). You may see its privateness coverage right here. Because it’s a subscription service, he additionally says that Flight Penguin takes no commissions and can present no advertisements.

We’ll have to kick the tires on the service ourselves earlier than we are able to say if it’s any good. One huge query looming over the complete enterprise is whether or not the airline trade will do something (both technically or legally) to attempt to block the Flight Penguin extension from gathering search outcomes from their websites.

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