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At-booking forecasts now mobile-friendlier
And we're soliciting events that you think travelers should be alerted to at booking; plus multi-airline itineraries enabled
Before we jump into product updates, we can’t help but prognosticate about holiday passenger volumes when the TSA themselves releases their projections. Things have changed, though, since we last used checkpoint traveler numbers for intro fodder. Probably most materially—after long-referencing the all-time record of 2.883 million travelers from the Sunday after Thanksgiving 2019—we have a new high-water mark. Friday, June 30 of this year saw 2.885 travelers screened, buoyed not just by the July 4th holiday but presumably too by United still clearing a backlog of disrupted passengers.
Tim has also strayed further from Excel in the last few months, tempted more and more by chatGPT and Jupyter notebooks. So he spun up a quick Prophet model (and of course drew from the posterior predictive distribution to keep it probabilistic). Survey says? Perhaps most impressively, it gives the Sunday after Thanksgiving nearly a 1 in 5 chance of reaching 3 million screened. It also gives that Sunday about a 50/50 chance of setting a new all-time record (it even thinks the Wednesday before has about a 1 in 8 chance to reach 2.885 screened).
But while we’re liable to spend a paragraph or two on goings-on around the industry, for the foreseeable future, this newsletter will be about what we’re building. To that end, you can expect us back in your inbox a bit more frequently—probably just under once per week. What’s this first update hold? Let’s get to it.
Giving mobile users some love
Our first version was designed with desktop users in mind1; users could access it on a mobile device, but the ported-over desktop layout was cramped (enough so that usability was impaired, especially on smaller phones oriented in portrait).
With this update, mobile users will see more elements distributed vertically in the search section. And once they click get chances, they should benefit from relatively wider prediction visualizations [such that mobile users should horizontally scroll within the results section].
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We expect to continue optimizing the at-booking layout for desktop then remold a serviceable mobile experience (though Google Analytics could prove this assumption wrong). But looking ahead, as we develop a next-day/day-of product, we expect to optimize that layout for mobile users.
Multi-airline itineraries are ‘Coming soon’ no more
Version 1.0.0 included a multi-airline switch, but—if we’re in the trust tree—it was really just there to provide some visual balance. Users would discover it was disabled, with a ‘Coming soon’ tooltip at least teasing its future availability. Version 1.1.0 leaves less to the imagination in this regard, with users able to create an itinerary that features different airlines for leg 1 and 2.
That leaves our Stops selector as the only decorative element, though if users were to think the layout’s visual order guides our task prioritization… we wouldn’t discourage them.
Heads up about that itinerary you’re considering!
Last but not least for this update, we’ve built the plumbing for alerting that’s conditional to the itinerary a user is evaluating. For the moment, we only have two alerts loaded: (1) when you’ve selected a date that is likely beyond airlines’ most recent major load and (2) if you’re transiting SFO when 28L is liable to be closed next year.
We’d love suggestions on other events that you think travelers should be advised of before hitting book—particularly ones our model might not “see.” SFO’s 28L closure is a good example in this respect, as it hasn’t learned the impact of these construction-induced capacity reductions.
As always, general feedback appreciated! Latest version is running at at-booking.aerology.ai.