(CHICAGO, ILLINOIS) – Talking through excitement and anticipation, United Airlines public relationship manager Michelle Stark raised her Galaxy Note 5 in front of a crowd of a few hundred shareholders of United Airlines in Chicago on Thursday, announcing a new app that would be premiered to the public at the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) festival and conference in Austin, Texas in two weeks.
“Passengers have expressed to us how they consistently correlate window seats with a far more enjoyable flying experience,” Stark said. “We here at United have brainstormed on how all passengers could feel as though they could see the ‘big picture’ around them, and this new app allows that to be a reality for any passenger carrying a WiFi enabled personal device, such as a cell-phone or tablet.”
For three years, United has been researching on ways passengers who don’t have the luxury of a window seat could experience flying like they did. Some ideas included pointing seats 90 degrees from their current position, towards the window, issuing sedatives to passengers seated in an isle seat, and another mobile app that allowed passengers to find out if the person with the window seat would likely ‘fight back’ if asked to switch (the app creativity included a felony and arrest record search engine). But ultimately, the idea of ‘mobile TCAS’ won out in the long run.
“Yeah, I mean I think it’s cool. It can offer some comfort to knowing who is flying around us, and you know, maybe it can even help our planes stay safe,” said 24-year old University of Chicago graduate student Dan Goldberg, waiting for his flight to San Francisco at O’Hare airport Thursday. “I can get an idea of all of the aircraft around us, and you know, maybe I could alert the flight attendants if I think someone is going to hit us.”
“I can get an idea of all of the aircraft around us, and you know, maybe I could alert the flight attendants if I think someone is going to hit us.”
The passengers aren’t the only people who feel this app is promising.
John Daley, senior captain with United Airlines, also feels the app has tremendous potential to not only keep passengers comfortable, but to enhance safety.
“Look, the more eyes we have up there, the better,” he said, while walking rather fast through O’Hare with his suitcase that included stickers such as ‘If It Ain’t Boeing, I ain’t Going’ and ‘Livin’ The Dream’.
In the technical sense, the app took a small specialized team of engineers and aviation experts, and contains over 193,000 lines of Java.
The app will available to the public free of change in two weeks on the Apple Store and Android/Google Play, and will automatically be activated for those who purchase United Airlines tickets. The app will also include discounts to rental cars, hotels, and restaurants, and will most likely slow down your phone and bombard you with unwanted ads when your battery is less than 5%.