InTime

Image: Lufthansa Systems

APEX Insight: Crowdsourced data plus technical ingenuity means less time killed at the airport. Lufthansa Systems’ inTime provides travelers with real-time estimates on how long it will take to reach the airport, clear security and make a flight.

Most travelers, especially frequent flyers, like to cut it close when it comes to getting to the airport. But calculating how long it takes to catch a flight can sometimes feel like an eighth-grade math problem: If Jane needs to be at LAX by 4 p.m., how long will it take her to get there if crawling down the 405 at 40 mph? The difficulty of the equation is compounded when travelers find themselves in unfamiliar cities.

Luckily, there’ll soon be an app for that. Lufthansa Systems’ inTime, currently in beta, provides travelers with real-time estimates on how long it will take to reach the airport, clear security and make a flight. “InTime focuses on the end-to-end traveler’s digital journey experience, which at the moment is highly fragmented,” explains Mubashir A. Tariq, product manager for the app. In addition to determining travel time to the airport, the app will also calculate how long it takes to reach a final destination – ideal for business travelers hurrying to a meeting.

“InTime focuses on the end-to-end traveler’s digital journey experience, which at the moment is highly fragmented.” — Mubashir A. Tariq, Lufthansa Systems

To provide up-to-the-minute information on traffic and security lines (up to every five minutes), the app crowdsources data from its users – an imperfect science that was fine-tuned during an internal employee trial. One of the key findings was that participants couldn’t necessarily be relied upon to input information. The solution? Automate crowdsourcing. “This might sound simple, but it’s a technical challenge,” Tariq says.

“We currently focus on generating data points passively using built-in mobile sensors,” Tariq explains. The rapid beaconization of airports plays into this possibility. “Through these sensors, the app ‘learns’ things, such as, When did the traveler go to the airport? Which mode of transportation was used and how long was the journey? How long was the line at security? How long did it take to reach the departure gate?”

“InTime’s awareness of the traveler’s context will enable it to address the traveler’s needs at the right moment with the right offer.” — Mubashir A. Tariq, Lufthansa Systems

Perfecting the art of app mapping is big business. In 2013, Google bought Waze, a turn-by-turn navigation app for drivers that also leveraged user-reported data, for $1.3 billion. Lufthansa Systems plans to have inTime available for free on iOS and Android devices by the end of this year. The app can also be integrated with an airline’s pre-existing mobile app and plans are already in place to integrate with Lufthansa Group’s airline apps. 

And Lufthansa Systems is already thinking about the ancillary revenue possibilities: “InTime’s awareness of the traveler’s context will enable it to address the traveler’s needs at the right moment with the right offer,” Tariq says.

travel time

The above shows the amount of time it takes, in minutes, to get to the airport from downtown via public transit and car. Image: Clara Prieto

“Doing the Travel Math” was originally published in the 7.2 April/May issue of APEX Experience magazine.

Katie is a writer for APEX Media, based in Paris, France.