Best apps of July 2011: Hipmunk
The summer vacation season is officially upon us, and that means booking your travel plans, packing your suitcase and jetting off to exotic locales. It's not quite that simple, of course--in fact, there's almost nothing simple about travel planning, which is why the simplicity of the Hipmunk Flight Search mobile app is such a refreshing break from the norm. Hipmunk is all about streamlining the travel search process, eliminating pages of irrelevant features and results to narrow down precisely the information you're looking for, like departure/arrival times, ticket cost and flight duration. Even better, it's all presented in a visual timeline format that allows you to efficiently identify the itinerary best suited to your requirements and demands.
Beyond its seamlessly intuitive user interface, what's great about Hipmunk Flight Search is that it acknowledges travel can be a huge drag--so much so that the app offers an Agony search option that returns requests that factor in the length of a flight, how much it costs and how many stopovers you'll have to make en route to your destination. Hipmunk Flight Search also filters out itineraries that are longer and more expensive than other available options, and when you find the trip that fits your schedule and your budget, you can book it on your iPhone, email it to your traveling companions or finish the transaction on the desktop.
Hipmunk Flight Search isn't perfect: The desktop version includes features currently unavailable on iOS, like the Ecstasy hotel sorting and booking option (which combines price, amenities and reviews). But it's bound to improve over successive updates, and even now, it's an invaluable resource for the frazzled flier. Best of all, it's free--you know, like checked baggage used to be.