American opened its travel API to developers at the SXSW conference earlier in the week.
They hosted a contest for the best hacks that folks could come up with. This is what could be done in 30 hours, not an ongoing development project. But I was interested to see what folks would come up with, as a quick window into what creative folks could do if unconstrained by the corporate development process — and what might be possible for airline apps to deliver in the coming years.
So I was intrigued by the winning entry:
First Place – AirPing: Won $10,000 to split amongst the team and 25,000 AAdvantage miles for each member.
AirPing provides users with live updates for flight changes or delays, and estimated travel time to the airport. The app also provides the airlines with real-time information on the whereabouts of its passengers to better determine how many seats can be provided to customers on standby.
In some ways I’m just thrilled when an airline app works on my phone and can generate a boarding pass (without hanging too long trying to load or crashing my phone).
For the most part they’re just static providers of information, plus a list of reservations and probably your mileage balance.
Hotel apps are a little bit better in that they generally let you book room nights seamlessly.
Eventually airlines will need to figure out how to sell tickets effectively via mobile and also handle flight changes, but often times flight changes can’t even be managed on airline websites, via desktop browsers so mobile solutions may be farther off than I’d like or than they should be.
I like the idea of mobile apps improving standby clearance lists, though I imagine folks not yet at the airport would need to have some benefit to being logged into the app (perhaps that seats can be given away 40 minutes out unless you’re logged into the app in which case your GPS data can secure your seat until door closure at 10 minutes).
What do you use airline mobile apps for? What features are they missing?