How One Boston Startup is Overcoming Flight Delays and Cancellations

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Over the last year, Boston has seen its tech scene flourish, and when our team headed out for the Deep Learning Summit and the Deep Learning in Healthcare Summit at the end of May, we heard first hand from some of these thriving companies.

Having traveled back from Boston on the day of the British Airways IT meltdown, it really drew on the functionality of Freebird, a B2B travel tech startup based in Boston, and how it could have saved the day had we been booked onto a BA flight back to the UK. 

@getfreebird: British Airways outage impacts 75K travelers and £100m costs. Freebird travelers rebook next flight on any airline.

Everyone knows that sinking feeling when you're waiting at the airport and your flight flashes up 'delayed'. You wish you'd got to the airport a couple of hours later, or on the occasion of cancelled flights not bothered at all, but how do we know ‘which of the over 30 million commercial flights in the US will get actually delayed or cancelled?' Freebird has built a business based on using data science to answer that question, their number one priority is to eliminate the stress, delay, and massive inconvenience delays can cause - they know that 'getting there matters'.

Sam Zimmerman, CTO & Co-founder spoke at the Deep Learning Summit Boston last week where he explained that the Freebird team have created a real-time predictive analytics engine based on dynamic data sets and deep-learning algorithms. In the event of a cancellation or severe delay, with Freebird you can skip the line and instantly book a new ticket (on any airline) at no extra cost. 

But how does this work?

Freebird started out with the intention of serving the B2C market, and after a successful incubation period realised that the ‘corporate market needed something for travel agents to better take care of their passengers, which was one thing that [they] had already validated’ with the B2C model. For companies to get their team to meetings or conferences in a limited and often tight time schedule is often of paramount importance, and there was an obvious gap in the market and a need in the corporate space for a tech solution to these travel inconveniences. Not only are disruptions bad for business, but each year they have an annual cost of $60 billion, and the US has a travel insurance spend of over $3 billion. 

'We can't stop flights from being cancelled, but we're doing the next best thing'.

Screenshot 2017-06-06 170525png

Zimmerman spoke about the multitude of data the platform amalgamates in order to compute prices correctly and calculate the appropriate quotes. The ‘cutting edge predictive analytics tool takes into consideration weather data, flight pricing and availability, to price the booking solution and to inform companies of the micro risk their travellers are facing every day.’ Using these dynamic data sets they are able to construct and train deep learning algorithms to generate an accurate output determining the likelihood of these disruptions. He explained are not an insurance company, but a 'technical company solving a technical problem' to help improve the industry by buying 'low cost last minute airline tickets that typically go unsold'.

Although Freebird began its life as a self contained mobile app, it is now a multi-platform agnostic medium that sends disruption notifications via sms, email, or the airline carrier's app to notify passengers as promptly as possible about any delays. This is so that the app can be integrated with the travel agents' systems and provide a smooth user experience that doesn't require any additional software from the passenger.

@pradipt: #Flight #Disruption #Startup Freebird Snares #Funding from General Catalyst and Accomplice

Want to hear from more companies working with Deep Learning? 

Our next Deep Learning Summit is in London 21-22nd September
Confirmed attendees include: Google Deep Mind, Facebook AI Research, Jukedeck, Alpha-i, Facebook, OpenAI

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Deep Learning Startups A I Smart Transport Deep Learning Summit Deep Learning Algorithms

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