This Cross-Country Flight Is the Future of Flying
Besides eggs or oatmeal, first-class and business-class passengers on American Airlines Flight 59 got something extra Saturday morning: a vote on future aviation technology.
The airline staged a "hack-a-thon" on the trip from New York to San Francisco, putting creative techies onboard with experienced road warriors to design and evaluate new tools. Some passengers previewed an app to track the health of your dog in the cargo hold and airport signs that recognize you when you walk by and flash your gate information rather than making you read through a laundry list of flight numbers and destinations.
Twenty-two teams of developers submitted ideas in June and four finalists were picked to give demonstrations to top-level frequent fliers, turning a routine flight into a nerd bird. The six road warriors who judged the competition, all Executive Platinum and invitation-only Concierge Key frequent fliers at American who happened to be booked on Flight 59, voted on their two favorites. The winner got a commitment for 90 days of development work in the San Francisco-based Wearable World Labs incubator and the chance to convince American to adopt it.
"There's a lot of innovation that needs to be done in aviation," said Aanarav Sareen, one of the judges and a president of a New York online retail startup. "Flight delays and missed connections—that process is still painful.''