The company's Flights app will use historical data to warn users when it thinks their flight will be delayed
Google has updated its Flights app with a pair of new features that should help weary (and wary) travelers get to grips with the next trip to the airport. The first uses machine learning to predict upcoming flight delays, and the second breaks down exactly what different airlines mean by "basic economy" - explaining what amenities are and are not included in so-called last class.
Predicting flight delays is probably the most interesting of these two. According to a blog post from Google, it'll comb through historical data of flight delays to look for common patterns in late departures. These include factors like location, weather, and aircraft arriving late. Once the algorithms are 80 percent sure there'll be a delay, the information will appear in search results when you look up your flight number, route, or airline.
To cover its back, Google stresses that you shouldn't take its predictions at face value, and should turn up to your flight on time regardless. (Which some might say spoils the point of offering the feature in the first place!) But, at least with these warnings, you'll get a heads up.
The second feature is a reflection of airlines' race to the bottom in terms of flying perks. Over the past few years, companies have competed to offer the most basic possible service, stripping out things like baggage allowance and in-flight snacks to try to attract budget-conscious flyers. One upshot, though, has been that as airlines try to artfully disguise the spartan nature of their flights, it's often not clear what exactly is on offer. Google wants to help, and for a handful of airlines (Delta, American Airlines, and United Airlines) the Flights app will now warn users exactly what is and isn't included in the fee.
Delays and basic flight information your airline should be telling you: it's not fun, but at least it's helpful.