Shopping for plane tickets can feel like an absolute crapshoot. However much you try to game the algorithms and buy on suggested dates, somehow you still seem to lose out in the end. That might not always be the case — and artificial intelligence could be what breaks us free.
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Engineers at the University of Illinois have just released a study looking into the ways AI can work around some of our least favorite flying pitfalls. While you're not likely to see a robot making security go faster, AI can play a big role in helping you land better tickets for less. While we're getting used to sweet deals on fares, unavoidable peripheral costs (like, say, checking bags) are an increasingly aggravating pain point.
In essence, AI can learn what makes shoppers walk away from a fare package and what makes them click through to purchase, based on bigger trends and individual needs and preferences. This isn't just theoretical: The UI team has been testing out their AI in partnership with an unnamed European airline, which saw notable spikes in completed ticket sales. Not only that, but this AI model protects user privacy too.
"There is a maximum price not to be exceeded, and we do not track customer demographics information like income, race, gender, etc.," said study coauthor Kartik Yellepeddi, "nor do we track a single customer during multiple visits to a sale site. Each repeat visit is viewed as a separate customer." In a world where you can already rent a car with your face, that's a certain amount of futuristic comfort.