There seems to be no apparent limit to Google’s power of machine intelligence. According to reports, the Google Flights app will soon be able to predict and alert you to flight delays even before the airline does. We know airlines have taken a beating for delays, cancellations, and general incompetence, especially in the age of social media, but how is it possible for Google to predict flight wait times before the airline does?
Using historic flight status data, our machine learning algorithms can predict some delays even when this information isn’t available from airlines yet, Google says.
The app already offers the ability to view historical delay data when searching for your tickets, but it’s taking that feature a step further into real-time status. Taking into account travel patterns such as the influx of holiday snowbirds or popular weekend destinations, its machine learning algorithm will comb through countless piles of data to alert you to potential trip-delaying hazards.
While this tool can’t account for last-minute plane malfunctions or the person that decides to begin screaming their head off in the cabin as you are about to take off – forcing a turnaround and unloading of said lunatic – it’s an extremely helpful, forward-looking feature that will allow travelers to spend more of their valuable time outside of a crowded terminal.
But don’t get too comfortable relying on those alerts. The algorithm is based on history and patterns, and does not necessarily provide spot-on accuracy, as helpful as it is. An alert can be issued even if the algorithm is only 80% certain that a delay will occur.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s an awesome feature that can be especially helpful in light of airlines that string you along until the last second. Google Assistant already tells you of verified delays, but the Flights app will now also be able to tell you specifically why your flight was delayed, a valuable gauge of how much blame you should be putting on the airline versus unavoidable circumstances.
There was already good reason to download the most comprehensive flight app out there: saving money. But now the app is also adding features that can save you the one of the few things more valuable than money: your time.