App in the Air, improving the global traveler experience, one app at a time

Flying is one of those experiences that can be at the same time exciting in a positive way, particularly if you are an aviation enthusiast, but at the same time exhausting and exasperating because of all the procedures involved (getting to and from the airport, waiting times, delays, etc.). The availability of connected mobile devices, and particularly tablets, has done done a lot to alleviate and improve the air traveler experience either on land or on board.

It is reviewing this type of apps and sites that from time to time I come across a true gem, this is the case of my latest discovery during my stay in Moscow:

App in the Air, an application (for now available on iPhone) that aims to make the most of your flight experience.

In short: App in the Air provides you a tool kit to manage your plane trips, you can  track your flight status (check-in, boarding, gate/terminal information, delays), get tips about the airports you are flying through (where to eat, how to connect to Wi-Fi, etc.) and chat with other passengers (to share taxi from airport or find out whether security line is long and you should arrive at the airport in advance) and, in line with the "quantified-self" trend lets you keep organized records of all your flying activity.

Of course you can get this type of information through other apps and sites, but what I think makes App in the Air stand out is the nice and functional way in which all these practical features have been combined. Plus in addition to an elegant interface it has some nice details, such as notifications when there is just a certain amount of time left before check in or boarding.

I played with the app for a little while and as I liked what I saw I took advantage of the fact that I was in Moscow to meet with Bayram Annakov, of the team that developed it.

What follows is a short interview with him:

Q: How did App in the Air start? What's been your story so far?

Bayram: It all started with a geo-location chat Squeek which we developed in 2011. After we launched it we've found out that our primary user base are chatting in airport rooms, so we decided to focus on this particular segment and make an app for them. This is how App in the Air was born. We raised $150K investment from the Russian venture capital fund in August 2011 and launched the app in June 2012. 

Q: Who is  behind App in the Air?

B: Currently, we have a team of four:

Sergey Pronin, our genius programmer who is coding on different languages and platforms and is responsible for the whole development;

Nikita Kosholkin, our business analyst, who spends most of his time analyzing user behaviour, measuring the effectiveness of product changes and proposing new ones,

Kirill Zorenkov, our Designer who is all about making the user experience as smooth as possible, and me, Bayram Annakov, responsible for product management and business development, but sometimes coding together with Sergey.

Q: What are your main markets?

B: Business & leisure flight travelers in English-speaking countries who have iPhones are our primary markets, though we plan to expand to new geographies (Asia - 5 times growth for the last 10 years) and to new platforms (Windows Phone and Android).

Q: How's been the market and user reception so far?

B: We have launched the app in June, 2012 - since that time we have 60 000 downloads (January, 2013), we got featured by the media: we are among Business Insider's 100 Greatest Apps and also Gizmodo UK Essential Apps of June to name a few... 

Q: Any anecdotes you might wish to share?

B: Do you know the most popular tip for Chicago Airport? "Don't forget your son Kevin at home. He'll most likely have to fend off burglars on his own." (a reference to the Home Alone movie!). 

Another one is that we had a user who made 90 flights in last four months (almost 1 flight a day!) and helped us find a bug that we hadn't even thought about. We decided to release a special "Limited Edition" version for him with a special badge on app icon to show our gratitude for all his help! :) 

Q: What is your long term vision for your project?

B: We want to be #1 source of official & unofficial information for every traveler to make his/her experience less stressful. We want to achieve it by flight alerts, tips & chat (users can actualy send questions via live chat to the App in the Air team) and by crowd-sourcing flight information from our users in addition to using official sources of flight information. 

We want to be the ultimate App in the Air.. and before the air! :)


And indeed, the future looks promising, riding the wave of success the App in the Air team is preparing to branch out and develop some of their most popular features into stand-alone apps for all those travelers that don't need a comprehensive travel management tool but are looking to sort out only specific parts of their travel experience...stay tuned because we'll revisit App in the Air in the near future for sure...!