It’s no longer news that flight delays and outright cancellation has become endemic in Nigeria. Stories of people stranded at airports while trying to catch local flights have become very common. While nothing can make up for the frustration such situations bring, Nigerians will at least feel a little better if there was a way they could foresee such an occurrence.
Google Assistant now has a cool new feature that could do just that. Well, at least to a very reasonable extent. The Artificial Intelligence powered virtual assistant will now be able to predict whether your flight will be delayed or not.
Using Google Assistant, users can ask “Hey Google, is my flight on time?” or “Hey Google, what’s the status of the Arik Airlines flight from Abuja to Lagos?”
Using historical flight status data, Google’s AI system can predict the odds that a flight will be delayed. But that’s not all. Google Assistant will also inform users the reason for a flight delay (if it figures it out).
Google Assistant will also send updates on the status of the flight time and other details over the coming days leading up to the date scheduled for the flight.
However, the prediction is not completely accurate. According to Google, its prediction is only 85% accurate. Therefore it still recommends that users who will be flying should arrive at the airport as usual.
Although this feature is new on Google Assistant, Google actually rolled it out way back in February. Back then the feature was restricted to its Google Flights application and it only worked for a few locations.
We sent a mail to Google asking if and when the feature would be released to a larger audience, like Nigeria. A Google representative responded that:
Making Google Flights available in a new country is complicated. It requires us getting many things right – from getting all the airline data, understanding taxes, to working with local travel agents, to making sure our maps and airport names are correct in local languages
The rep also said the feature would be expanded into more countries with time, but no time range was provided. Now however, it seems the feature is being widely deployed to more countries, although Google is yet to confirm this.
With the holiday season already here, plane travel will witness an uptick in passengers in places like Nigeria. There’ll be a surge in passengers flying from Lagos to Abuja, Calabar, London and New York. This increases the probabilities of flight delays and longer waiting times at the airport.
The new flight prediction system in Google Assistant could help bring some reprieve to Nigerian passengers.
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