Flight DelayedFlight Delayed

For anyone that does as much travel as I do, one of the most frustrating things is going to the airport (2 hours early) just to learn that your flight is going to be delayed. If you have ever had that experience, you are going to love new start-up Flightcaster. As anyone knows, airlines are notorious for waiting until the last possibly moment to delay or cancel a flight, oftentimes knowing long before that they will probably have to do so. In fact, what most people may not realize is that airlines actually intentionally due this to rebook passengers and deal with the inevitable flight changes, etc. Enter Flightcaster, who takes on the onerous task of predicting and calling delayed flights as much as 6 hours before the airline will do so.

So, how does Flightcaster achieve this remarkable task? They essentially tap into a huge range of data points to try to simulate historical decisions that have canceled flights. For example:

The service keeps track of FAA alerts, weather, network congestion, historical trends, and other factors, which are all run through an algorithm to provide an estimate of how likely it is that a given flight will be delayed. When it makes its guess, it provides you with a percentage chance, along with the reasons it thinks the flight will be delayed (for example, it might say that there is a 90% chance of a 2 hour delay because your plane is still sitting 200 miles away at another airport).

For business travelers this would be a very handing tool indeed. The company I work for uses American Express to book all of our travel, so I’m completely used to calling and rebooking flights, changing destinations or times, it’s just a part of the ever changing business environment. So, while the casual traveler might be nervous to risk paying the change of flight cost based on a 80% chance of being delayed, I would be perfectly comfortable doing so, because it would allow me to rebook faster and get to important meetings and keep my clients happy.

Flightcaster makes an app for both the iPhone and the Blackberry for about $10 dollars, although you can get it for $5 dollars if you buy it during the launch (now!).

Photo: Wavebreaker