Fare Alerts for Travel with Hopper
Credit: Courtesy of Hopper

Airfare forecasting app Hopper announced Thursday a new tool to make it easier to find flight deals.

Called the “Flex Watch,” this in-app feature helps travelers with flexible travel dates and/or destinations with the process of picking and planning trips.

Similar to KAYAK’s Explore tool, Hopper starts by asking when and for how long you want to travel. Keep things general, like “anytime,” for trips between a weekend and two weeks long, or get specific, like from November 3-8.

How it works

During a test run of the app, I selected April as my travel month, for trips between 5 and 8 days in length. The app asks for a departure city (or preferred airport) and destination.

Again, travelers can keep the results broad — “anywhere,” or entire continents, for example — or get granular. Results can focus on specific regions, like Southeast Asia, countries, cities, states, or even a specific airport.

The feature also allows multiple selections, making it possible to simultaneously compare the cheapest flight options for a trip to either Peru or Argentina in the spring.

What's new

Flex Watch goes much deeper that just showing low ticket prices: It generates a number of results for the trip specified. My inquiry about roughly weeklong vacations in South America generated some pretty tempting deals (like $449 round-trip tickets to Colombia). And Hopper’s ability to put these prices in context might be even more valuable.

For example, it’s easy to recognize that a $69 plane ticket is a great deal for an international flight to Europe, of course. But it can be harder to recognize good prices on unfamiliar routes, or trips where ticket prices are almost always expensive (like from the U.S. to Australia and New Zealand).

Flex Watch told me, for instance, that a $449 round-trip ticket to Cartagena, Colombia, was a “good deal” — 16 percent cheaper than an average-priced ticket.

For flights to Chile, Hopper found $865 round-trip fares. That’s not a deal, according to the app, it’s just the “best available price.”

When I broadened my search to search for trips in South America and the United States, things got interesting. Hopper says, “woah”: There are $132 round-trip tickets during my travel window that are 58 percent off the average price.

Travelers then have the option of modifying their search or setting an alert. Hopper will let you know if it spots new deals on routes that meet your needs.

What’s the same

Flex Watch doesn’t change existing features in the app; it just adds an extra layer for travelers able to book flexible trips. Hopper continues to provide extensive contextual information for travelers, pointing out everything from the cheapest months and days to fly, generally, and the point in time in which fares typically begin to rise.

Because Hopper blends historical data with real-time fare searches, the app is able to deliver more than just notifications about deals; it can make a true flash sale stand out from the typical peaks and valleys of airfare pricing.