Back in the days before airline tickets were electronic, Jeff Klee would scalp flight tickets out of his college dormitory so that he can afford his own trips during spring break. Klee and a college buddy founded 1-800-Cheap-Air in 1989, helping others save money by buying airline tickets when fares got cheaper, as well as offering convenient delivery services at a time when consumers had to go pick up their tickets from their travel agents. When that business took off, Klee knew he was onto something.
But Klee was a computer geek too, and knew that technology would one day revolutionize the travel industry. He then deferred his plans for law school, and leveraged on his passion for software programming – and his experience gaming airline ticket prices – to create a proprietary air fare shopping engine, CheapAir.com, designed to help identify the best-priced travel deals.
With CheapAir.com, travelers not only are able to source the lowest prices for flights to a certain destination, they can find out what amenities – WiFi – live TV, personal video monitors, for example – are available on board. “Often, there are many flights that are roughly the same price, but there might be a huge difference in the onboard product,” says Klee, CEO of CheapAir.com.. “In the past, travelers would have to do serious research to find out all these details, which can be incredibly frustrating and time consuming. But, now we’ve made it easy to compare in-flight amenities by having all the information in one place.”
There’s also a ranking feature that recommends top flight picks based on an proprietary algorithm, which scores flights based on price, total travel time, on-time percentage, airline ratings, comfort and onboard amenities. “(But) we’re constantly working on giving people tools and advice to make more intelligent choices, so they can get the best fares and flights that fit their needs,” Klee adds.
It’s been two decades since Klee first started his business. Today he leads a team of around 50 who also shares his love for travel, and can often be found in their Calabasas, California-based office rambling about airfare purchasing algorithms.