Technology

Air travel tech turning more consumer-focused

air travel tech
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The experience of checking flight options and then checking back a short time later only to see a dramatically increased price is all-too-common.

This experience is usually followed by a frustrating battle to include hold luggage you didn’t know wasn’t already included, or check the flexibility of your purchase in case a change is needed. A point articulated with the characteristic punch of John Oliver a few weeks ago, showing baggage-fee revenue having risen from $543 million in 2007 to $4.2 billion in 2016.

 

The technology available for flight-booking and other similar getaway platforms has until now been focused on cheap prices and lots of reviews, but that’s no longer enough.

A recent study published in Mice BTN revealed that passengers want more personal control over their flying experience, including more automation of standard processes and real-time information sent directly to their personal device. For years now apps and websites like Kayak and Skyscanner have been the portal to cheap flights, slaking consumer lust for a deal on expensive flights.

More recently a flurry of apps have been developed which are turning the focus of the airline industry back to consumers. Instalocate is an Indian company founded on the idea – sumptuously displayed on their home page – of being able to “Convert flight delays into money”. The website provides aggrieved customers with the ability to outsource a knowledge of passenger legal rights in return for a cut of the compensation.

Not only does a company like this shift the balance back to customers, but it also increases pressure on the airline companies, creating a situation where it becomes far less financially viable to play chicken with gate schedules and overbooking.

In the same vein, Flightsayer is a new app which draws on 10 different sources of information and predicts flight delays and provides customers a risk-rating even weeks or months ahead of their departure time.

Airlines themselves may also have spotted the bandwagon to be boarded, Lufthansa having recently announced a deal with ethereum blockchain startup Winding Tree. One can only hope this will be a partnership which continues the consumer-focused trend as opposed to a platform used to clawback control.

Meanwhile, as a sweetener, Netflix is offering up its bandwidth technology to improve in-flight streaming. So we can expect little perks and improvements alongside a more balanced relationship with our airlines. And for the prospective high-flyers, there is now even an Uber for chartered flights.

This story originally appeared on StartUp Beat.

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Ben Allen
Ben Allen is a traveller, a millennial and a Brit. He worked in the London startup world for a while but really prefers commenting on it than working in it. He has huge faith in the tech industry and enjoys talking and writing about the social issues inherent in its development.