In a novel and intriguing effort to distinguish itself from other online travel agencies, Expedia has partnered with Routehappy to add an extra dimension to its flight-search results.
From Routehappy, the self-described “product differentiation platform for air travel, providing the industry with Scores and Happiness Factors for every flight worldwide,” Expedia will have access to specific details of the aircraft type, seats, layout, WiFi, entertainment, meal service, and power outlets for most flights available for sale through Expedia.
Sounds great. But so far, all Expedia shoppers get is a summary that supposedly boils down all that Routehappy data into a one-word descriptor: Good, Excellent, Amazing, and so on.
Part of the problem may be the physical limitations of the display medium. There’s just not enough space to show much more than fares, departure and arrival times, and flight durations on a desktop monitor, much less on a smartphone screen. So important details such as seat pitch and a flight’s on-time performance necessarily get squeezed down into a Happiness Factor. But really, what constitutes Amazing for one traveler may be irrelevant to another.
When I’m choosing a flight, I want details, and the ability to filter my search results in multiple ways. For short flights, for example, price may be the most important factor. But for longer hauls, I’d place a high priority on roomier seats and fast WiFi.
Gaining access to the flight particulars is an important step. But Expedia still has a long way to go in making that data accessible in a way that’s clear and actionable.
Bottom line: a work in progress.
Reader Reality Check
What details would help you make a more informed decision when choosing a flight?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.