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Routehappy is betting that passengers care enough about some extra legroom, outlets for their laptops or variances in onboard entertainment to alter their flight choices and perhaps pay an extra few bucks to board a particular aircraft on a specified route.
And, the hope is that online travel agencies would syndicate its user-generated content and ratings, or airlines would license what Routehappy believes is competitive data of a granular nature that carriers have never been privy to.
The New York-based startup, which debuted a website in beta in March and also has an iPhone app, picked up $1.5 million in seed funding from High Peaks Venture Partners, Contour Venture Partners, Vocap Ventures, and travel-industry angels.
Routehappy boasts of travel industry veterans as co-founders, angels and advisors.
The co-founders include CEO Robert Albert, formerly general manager of Site59 and a media executive at Travelocity, and vice president of data Adam Gwosdof, who co-founded Applimation and formerly was a travel planner at Ovation Corporate Travel.
Angels and advisors include Scott Hintz, TripIt co-founder and Hotwire launch team executive; Al Lenza, former head of distribution and ecommerce at Northwest Airlines; Porter Gale, former chief of marketing at Virgin America; Brett Snyder, who writes The Cranky Flier; and Ellen Keszler, ex-president of Travelocity Business and current board member of Farelogix and Sojern.
Routehappy enables travelers to search for flights based on the roominess of the seats, the moodiness of the crew, the tastiness of the food, the flight duration, the type of aircraft, and travelers’ reviews and tips about a particular flight.
Fare information and the ability to book flights on online travel agency sites are to be added later this year.
Wildly diverse experiences
CEO Robert Albert says passengers find “wildly diverse experiences even within an airline,” adding that on flights from JFK to FLL “some aircraft have roomier seats, some have tight seats, some have onboard entertainment and perhaps only one flight a day may have Wi-Fi.”
Albert concedes that passengers are mostly price-driven.
If the price is right, what about the amenities?
“Most of the time you are still going to buy the cheapest price,” Albert says. “But if the fares are all basically the same, shouldn’t you get the most for your money?”
While Routehappy’s target consumer audience is frequent flyers, it also hopes to attract a wider audience of casual travelers, Albert says.
Airline buffs may already know it’s best “to sit near the front on the two-seat side because the whole back is incredibly noisy,” Albert says, but Routehappy wants to make that kind of information accessible to a broader number of passengers.
The funding, Albert says, will be used to expand the current team of around six full-time employees and three freelancers, and to build out the product.