In an attempt to better compete with low-cost airlines, major air carriers like American Airlines, Delta and United have been rolling out “basic” economy fares – no-frills fares that charge fees for amenities that would otherwise come standard, like seat assignments or the right to use the overhead bin space, for example. But this unbundling has also made it difficult for customers to price the true cost of their trip, which is where the travel app Hopper now aims to help.
Hopper has long since been one of the more useful trip planning applications on the market, with a variety of features that help you find the lowest priced airfare. Its forecasting software tracks airlines’ ever-changing ticket prices in order to predict prices and alert you when it’s the best time to buy a ticket.
In December, when Hopper announced $61 million in Series C funding, Hopper’s users had tracked 18 million trips on its app, which was seeing over a million installs per month.
The app specifically targets younger consumers, who tend to use mobile phones over computers for things like airline bookings – in fact, Hopper doesn’t even offer a web app for its service.
Because Hopper’s user base is focused on finding the cheapest ticket, they’re also likely considering these new “basic” fares, at times.
However, it’s been difficult to figure out how a basic economy fare competes with a regular ticket once you start adding back in the fees for the amenities you’d want to use.
Hopper’s new feature, which it’s calling “Fair Bear,” can help you cut through all the fine print with regard to the airfare’s restrictions. Specifically, it will break down the fees and explain the policies for things like flight cancellations, flight changes, your carry-on allowance, checked bag prices, and seat selection.
A bear will appear in a banner in the app to introduce the range of restrictions associated with the ticket, hence the feature’s name. Users can also choose to filter out basic fares from their searches, if they’d rather not see them for comparison purposes.
In conjunction with the new feature, Hopper also released the results of a study on airlines’ hidden fees, which details the average prices for various amenities and options. For example, ticket changes cost $287 on average, while 1 bag costs $25 on average and 2 cost $59 on domestic flights, with international travel being more lenient.
The Fair Bear feature is out now for the Hopper app on Android, and will hit iOS later this week.