Q&A: Talking Tech and Flying Safer
Did you catch our Instagram stories yesterday? In case you missed them, here’s a little recap. (Don’t worry, they’re also saved as a highlight on our IG page!) Bobbi, the social media manager at Pilota, gave us a rundown on the company: what they do in travel, changes that came with COVID-19, and how you can fly safer—whether it’s tomorrow or next year—using their Google Chrome extension called FlySafe.
A recent study by Business Insider says filling the middle seat on a flight nearly doubles the risk of passengers catching COVID-19. Did you know there’s a place where you can find whether or not airlines are blocking seats on a flight prior to booking it, as well as a flights’ sanitization and whether or not PPE is provided? Meet your new favorite flight booking companion in the wake of coronavirus.
This week we also got to ask cofounder of Pilota, Saniya Shah, some questions about starting the company, and how the Chrome extension is keeping travelers safe and less stressed. Saniya is no stranger to travel.
Q: Hi, Saniya! Tell us a little about yourself.
A: I am the CEO and cofounder at Pilota which is amazing because I get to combine my love for travel with my tech background. I’ve been on planes since I was about 6 months old, and I have been to over 50 countries and 6 continents—so I understand firsthand both the joy of traveling and the pain that sometimes comes with it.
Q: What is Pilota? How did Pilota come to be?
A: Pilota is a travel tech company focusing on enhancing the passenger experience by providing an AI travel companion. It all started at Cornell in grad school where my cofounders, Cyrus, Kulvinder, Omer and I met and began working together to see if we could use AI to predict flight delays. From there we realized that emerging technology like AI can be used to solve so many common travel problems. That is when we began working on Pilota.
Q: How is it useful for travelers in both booking and pre-flight/at the airport?
A: Our chrome extension, FlySafe, is extremely useful for travelers pre-booking. It works directly on the sites you are already using—like Google Flights—and it helps you compare the flights that appear based on the health/safety factors that matter most to you. It provides you with the corresponding information as well as a personalized rating for each flight. We are soon rolling out enhanced features to FlySafe that will help you pre-flight and before you get to the airport so you will know what to expect when you get there. Considering how quickly things are changing at the airport, this will be really important information to keep travelers prepared.
Q: For those of us who are not tech-savvy (ME!) and without revealing too many secrets, how do you track this information? How does Pilota work behind the scenes?
A: We combine data we get from our data sources along with data we collect and analyze. We update it every 48 hours because we know how quickly things are changing and want to make sure we provide the most updated information that we can.
Q: For many people, a lot of the anxiety and stress around travel comes with exactly what Pilota works with: delays and cancellations. How do you think Pilota will ease some stress surrounding travel?
A: We hope that our product can provide peace of mind to travelers by empowering them with the information they need to make personalized choices and proactively take care of any risks that may arise like delays and cancellations.
Q: Coronavirus has inevitably changed the way we travel. On top of providing information about flights, you can also check safety and cleanliness with Flysafe. Can you explain this feature (because this is SO COOL)?
A: Of course! So we know that travelers today are concerned about how they are being kept safe on planes and are nervous to fly if certain precautions are not going to be taken. So, what we do is we tell you what precautions you can expect to be taken and the pertinent health and safety information up front. The best part is that we can provide it all directly on your booking platform, like Google Flights, Expedia, etc. so you can view it before booking and make sure that the flight you are choosing aligns with your health/safety standards.
Q: What’s one thing you’ve learned about flights/delays that would be beneficial for our readers to hear?
A: Most airlines will re-accommodate passengers on their delayed/cancelled flights based on their airline status, airfare class and sometimes even where they bought their flight from. If you bought a special fare then you might have to fight a little harder to get on that next best flight.
Q: Any advice for travelers out there?
A: Stay informed! Things are changing on a daily basis. Make sure that you know about the guidelines for your origin/destination before you take any kind of trip in the next few months.
Q: And lastly, what has been one of your favorite trips you’ve taken? And what’s the next on the list?
A: This past winter I took a trip to Australia/New Zealand which was really amazing. I have always wanted to visit and loved how we were able to experience the best of a city vacation and nature vacation all in one. Next on the list would have to be Thailand. I haven’t had a chance to visit yet and cannot wait to visit all the beaches that I have seen in photos!
Follow Pilota on IG @flypilota and check out more at flypilota.com.
Any questions for us? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.