[INTERVIEW] Who is FlightList?

Today we are interviewing Hans Desjarlais, founder of FlightList, who built an exciting service that is geared towards being simple and minimal when searching for one-way flights. Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions Hans! 

a screenshot of a flight schedule

Q1: Please tell us about yourself.

I’m a 35-year-old tech entrepreneur from Montreal and what you could consider a “digital nomad”. I’ve spent the last 8 years living in Mexico during the winter and traveling. My current position is president of Themely, a small WordPress theme development company and I’m also CTO for an education Startup based in California.

Q2. Why did you create FlightList?

Mostly out of frustration but also as an excuse to learn a new programming language. For the last 10 years I haven’t bought 1 return ticket, I always book one-way flights. As I’m traveling from one destination to another or I just don’t know when I’ll be returning. Last year I was traveling through Europe and trying to book a one-way flight on Skyscanner and Google Flights from the Netherlands to Ukraine when it hit me, why isn’t it easier for me to book a flight within a date range? I wasn’t in a hurry to leave the Netherlands, but I wanted to travel in the next 7 days. I kept switching between Google Flights and Skyscanner and changing the dates until after an hour I finally found a good deal.

When I returned to Canada in December I decided that I would try and build myself a flight booking app tailored to my travel style, but there was one problem, I didn’t know how to code Javascript. So, I decided that I would dedicate the next 30 days to building a flight booking app and use that as an excuse to learn Javascript.

Q3: What is FlightList about?

FlightList helps you find cheap, one-way flights within a departure date range. It has a simple and minimal interface without any ads, images or unnecessary content. Its primary focus is on showing you the cheapest flights and giving you the ability to quickly filter according to your needs. What would take me an hour to find a good deal now takes me less than 5 mins.

I was recently in the middle-east doing volunteer work and I used FlightList to find a cheap flight from Paris to Montreal for only US$300, direct with no stops. So, I bought a ticket to Paris and jumped on that flight. In all I saved between $200-800 by using FlightList. All other flights on Google Flights and Skyscanner were between $1200-2000.

Q4: What are some of the challenges that you faced in the beginning and what has kept you going?

Not knowing Javascript was a problem for me at the beginning but I decided to use that as a challenge to learn a new programming language. I’m passionate about traveling and I couldn’t picture my life without it. I think everybody should travel as it exposes you to new ideas and allows you to meet really great open-minded people who become life-long friends. Some of my best friends are people I met while traveling.

Q5: What would you like people to benefit the most from your service?

My wish is that fellow travelers find this useful in discovering cheap one-way flights and inspiring others to jump on a plane and explore the world. I have a feature on FlightList which allows you to search by region (continent) where you can find the cheapest flights to Europe, for example. This can be incredibly inspiring when deciding where to go.

Q6: What can we look forward to with FlightList?

People are booking flights with FlightList and traffic to the site hasn’t crashed. So, it means I may be onto to something. But I need to further validate the idea to see if I have a business on my hands. The next step is to test paid advertising to see if it converts into a positive ROI and recurring traffic.

I received a lot of great feedback from my launch on Product Hunt and I have a list of features I want to add and improve the user experience. There’s still work to be done.

Q7: What advice would you give travelers and “Pointshoggers” out there?

Good question. I would have to say that traveling is a great way to grow as a person. If you want to explore or step outside your comfort zone, book yourself a one-way ticket to a destination you’ve always dreamed of visiting. Don’t plan anything when you get there, just enjoy the journey. I’m sure you’ll meet some interesting like-minded people you’ll connect with.

Here’s a quick tip to help you find some amazing deals on flights for your next destination. Airlines sometimes offer huge discounts and FlightList takes a bottom-up approach so these flights will appear first in the results, so check back regularly because they don’t usually last long. You can find some really amazing deals if you’re patient.

a screenshot of a flight schedule

Q8: Any closing thoughts?

Building FlightList has been an interesting journey and what has been the most inspiring is the feedback from fellow travelers. I’m constantly receiving messages on how they appreciate how easy it is and suggestions for new features. I take into consideration every users feedback, so I invite everyone to try it out and let me know what you think.

Safe travels!

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