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Now that the holiday season is sliding into the rear-view mirror, it’s time to start thinking about spring and summer vacations in earnest. Of course, that also means it’s time to worry about trying to find the best price for any airplane flights. It’s a recipe for anxiety: there are tons of airlines, and prices can rise and fall seemingly without rhyme or reason.

geekwireapp2That’s where Hopper comes in. This new app for the iPhone gives users an easy way to browse flights from their smartphone and get the best deals they possibly can. When users first start up the app, Hopper asks for their home airport and then offers a single text field for a user’s desired destination.

Once users have picked out their departure and destination airports, Hopper shows off a calendar of flight prices for each day that range from green (cheap) to red (expensive). Users select a date range on the calendar, and then Hopper will recommend that they either purchase tickets right away or wait to buy until later.

IMG_0504The app will track trips for users and inform them of price changes using push notifications, so they don’t miss out on sudden deals.

Once users have picked out trip dates and received their prediction, they can tap on the “Tips” tab to get more insights about their proposed plans. Hopper will say if there are better deals to be had at other departure and arrival airports, or cheaper flights on other days. Then, once it’s time to book a flight, users can pick out their selections within the app, and see what insights Hopper has to offer with each pick.

The app will say if a flight is a good or bad choice based on a variety of factors, including the length of the flight, number of connections, departure time and how the price compares to other alternatives. For example, if it’s possible to save some money by adding a stop (or subtract a stop for a few extra dollars) the app will contain a link to a flight that fits the bill.

Users can then book the flights they’ve selected through a variety of sites, including Orbitz, Travelocity, and in some cases, the website of the airline that operates the flights they select.

If there’s one additional feature I’d like, it’s the ability to exclude certain airlines. For example, I have no plans to fly Spirit at any point in the future, but its cheap fares put it in first place in Hopper’s results for certain routes. In addition, I prefer to fly certain airlines in order to keep up my frequent flyer accounts, so it would be nice to highlight results from those companies when they’re available.

That said, Hopper is still a solid choice for people who want to find the best bargains on airfare. I’ll certainly be consulting with it before I make any plans.

Hopper is available for free on the App Store.

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