Earlier this month, deep in the halls of the Frankfurt Airport, the App in the Air (AITA) team worked nonstop — for 28 hours to be exact — to develop a solution to minimize the carbon dioxide pollution of airplanes, one of today’s largest problems facing the aviation industry, and the world. Broached with this Herculean task, the team worked tirelessly, and their valiant efforts paid off — the App in the Air crew emerged victorious as champions of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) AIR Hackathon, a global series of challenges to find solutions to enhance airline’s retailing capabilities.
App in the Air’s two-pronged approach to this problem was straightforward yet incredibly effective — encourage travelers to do carbon offsetting by helping travelers choose flights that would emit lower carbon emissions from the start and incentivize them to do it. The team developed an innovative booking platform for passengers to calculate the carbon offset they’ll need to pay, determined by the innumerable factors that go into air travel such as direct or connecting flights, carry-on or checked luggage, food/no food, type of transfer to the airport, etc.
Taking inspiration from App in the Air’s revolutionary ‘gamification’ of air travel, creating leaderboards and chances for friendly in-app competition between travelers for miles flown, the AITA at IATA crew — say that ten times fast — implemented a similar tactic, designing a leaderboard page where teams (corporate or leisure) compete against each other for the highest amount of carbon offset. They also developed an augmented reality globe that shows a more-polluted vs. less-polluted earth, based on the amount of carbon neutralized, understanding that visuals are key to motivating travelers to pay for offsets.
Always determined to exceed expectations, the AITA team also developed an Apple Watch functionality that shares personalized tips to each team member to become eco-friendlier: challenges to go vegan, using public transport instead of taxi, less single-use plastic, and more. It was personalized down to the most minute details, with individual stats, a socializing feature and ability to quickly offset with Apple Pay or Siri voice commands. Somehow, they did all of this in just 28 hours!
The IATA AIR Hackathon was an intensive competition where tech companies from around the world sent members to enter the coding experience and build solutions aimed at improving airline industry retailing, also called AIR, a key component of NDC (New Distribution Capability) that is transforming the way air products are sold. App in the Air competed in the carbon offset category, understanding that carbon offsetting is a direct and pragmatic approach to lowering the environmental footprint of airlines — and ready to deploy new innovative solutions. The team utilized Hahn Air’s NDC to develop their solution, after attending a workshop with the German airline during the competition and receiving their expert advice.
App in the Air sent their best and brightest tech wizards to Frankfurt — Sergey Pronin, App in the Air CTO; Vladimir Vasilev, frontend developer; Sergey Morozov, backend developer; Vladislav Samokin, backend developer; and Sasha Zavyalova, designer. Every member of this dream team brought unique talent to the competition; these inimitable skills that would prove essential once the coding countdown commenced.
When it came to picking the winner, the IATA jury members had quite the task at hand — there were over 15 other teams coding around-the-clock in Frankfurt, including Skyscanner, Eco-flyers, and Trip-Flyance. The winners were selected according to the following criteria: innovation, business potential, challenge completion, user experience, and use of NDC APIs (application programming interfaces). App in the Air’s stellar team emerged with flying colors, bringing home the NDC Leisure Prize; their solution will be showcased at next year’s AIR Tech Zone event and the team will present their innovative ideas in front of new audiences.
This couldn’t come at a better time for App in the Air — the company will soon be rolling out an in-app carbon offset program, where travelers can neutralize the emissions of flights booked within the app. It will be simple, seamless and incredibly useful — just like everything else that App in the Air does. More on that, coming soon.