flightSpeak app guides travelers through airports

November 25, 2016 by Rachel Lerman, The Seattle Times

What: flightSpeak, an app to help you navigate any airport

Who: Leo Osahor, founder and CEO

Airport life: Based in Seattle, flightSpeak created an app that acts as a virtual encyclopedia about any large . The app shows which restaurants are where, where to find good hangouts for families and where to charge a phone.

An eye on lines: flightSpeak has added a feature known as CheckPoint to help travelers stay on time as the holiday season approaches. CheckPoint gives an approximate waiting time for TSA security lines at any airport, with flightSpeak calculating the wait by using historical data and pattern recognition, Osahor said. It also makes use of crowdsourcing. The app will prompt users at the airport to note if the wait time is correct or needs to be tweaked.

Passenger reviews: Osahor, a Microsoft alum, started flightSpeak in 2013 after a couple bad flying experiences involving lost and delayed luggage. He vowed never to fly on those airlines again. "Then I realized I really love to travel, and boycotting airlines is not really the best way to go," he said. Instead, he launched an app that let passengers review airlines as they traveled.

In-person connection: The passenger-review system did not work out the way flightSpeak hoped. It turns out that when travelers are really upset, they want to talk to someone in person or on the phone, not type in an app. So the startup switched focus to another often-frustrating part of traveling - navigating airports.

Loss of control: Travelers often struggle to find information about various airports, and become annoyed with the loss of control that comes with being herded into lines. flightSpeak aims to bring all that information to one spot. The company now has information for 300 major airports through its app.

Airport customization: The company is testing a program that lets airports customize their section of the app for a fee. Airports can add information about parking, for example, or offer coupons. As flightSpeak grows, the company plans to bring revenue-producing ads onto the app, Osahor said.

On the ground: Osahor works from Pioneer Square in Seattle, Wash., and his 10-person team is spread throughout the world.

Explore further: Aviation professor expects boost in fliers for the holidays

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