Someone recently asked us if we’ve flown all 31 million non-stop flights that will take off this year in order to score them. While we’re salivating over the miles we could accumulate doing that, the answer is more scientific: incorporating experience into flight search is an intricate, enormously data challenge that we love solving.
Here’s the summary:
We researched thousands of unique combinations of airlines, planes and cabins worldwide to build the most accurate database for flight product attributes on the planet.
And we built complex algorithms that score and match those flight product attributes to a powerful low fare search engine, while seamlessly managing the myriad exceptions, exclusions and nuances that characterize air travel data.
Intrigued? Let’s dive into what it takes to create our unique Happiness Factors and how we combine them to create Happiness Scores.
Finding the data
We start off with Happiness Factors, assessing aircraft type, seat type, seat layout, entertainment, in-seat power, Wi-Fi, flyer ratings on a route, and duration for each flight.
Each Happiness Factor is assigned a score within its category.
It’s been a massive effort to get this data because there’s no single source. We had to start from scratch — researching and validating information from hundreds of sources, including:
- Direct from airlines
- Seat maps on airline websites
- Airline blogs
- Dedicated airline fan sites
- Airline press releases
- Industry news and analysis
- Experts and bloggers
- Vendors to airlines
- Commercial sources
- Forum contributions
- Routehappy flyer reviews
- Routehappy user feedback
Each individual Happiness Factor matters to your flight experience.
Aircraft Type: Our Flight Geniuses score and explain the kind of plane you’ll be on. Is it a brand new gem? A popular regional jet? A cramped regional jet? A plane known to be particularly loud in the back? Or a spacious, comfortable modern jumbo?
Seat Type: Flyers tell us the seat is the most important consideration. From a knee-crunching 27 inches (ouch!) to first class suites dripping with bling, we rate and note down the options, with explanations if there’s anything confusing that you should know.
Seat Layout: The number of neighbors you have matters! This factor helps you get at how crowded your cabin will feel, the number of more popular aisle and window seats, and how many less popular middle seats there are. We track over 50 seat layouts so that you don’t have to.
Entertainment: We track over 20 types of inflight entertainment, whether it’s nothing at all, staring at a ceiling-mounted TV like it’s the 1980s, Netflix-on-a-plane streaming to a brand new tablet, or your very own on-demand, touch screen in the seatback.
Power: Yeah, we get battery anxiety too. That’s why we tell you if you’ll have in-seat power on board, and whether you can plug your phone into a USB socket. We’ll also let you know whether you need to pack that weird adapter gathering dust in your computer drawer. We even cover US versus UK plug types because we know it can matter.
Wi-Fi: We can’t live without Wi-Fi. But it’s arriving on flights so fast that even the airlines have trouble telling you where you’ll find it. We’re building the best info on Wi-Fi coverage in the industry flight-by-flight, including fast expanding coverage on flights outside the US.
Rating: What do real flyers like you think about a the airline and the airports you’ll be flying from and to? We create a Flight Flyer Rating for every individual flight, so you know that the score actually relates to the flight you’re looking at — not some generic thoughts about a route half the world away.
The Happiness Hover: We figure almost everyone wants to get there as quickly as possible, so we assess overall duration (and the number of connections you have to make!) and factor it into our scoring. The longer the trip in comparison to the fastest on a route, the lower the score.
We then combine the Happiness Factors on a weighted basis into an overall Happiness Score, matched and scored dynamically with real time flight availability.
The weightings are based on our extensive research of what flyers value most (so it’ll be no surprise that seat comfort is the most important factor).
Our Happiness Scores are on a 1-10 scale, and come color-coded with a facial expression to make using the site intuitive and fun.
Check out how simple yet powerful finding a flight by Happiness can be: search for a happier flight on Routehappy right now!