A chatbot can now offer protection against volatile airline prices. It's the same robot, DoNotPay, that helped users protest parking fines and even sue Equifax for small sums of money.
Joshua Browder, a third-year student at Stanford University, designed the new service at the bot in a few months, after experiencing rapidly fluctuating airline prices when flying to California during the wildfires last year.
"It bothered me that on each flight, I could sometimes pay double or even triple the person who was next to me in the same type of seat," he told The Verge. Browder first used the service himself and then tested it among his friends in a closed beta. He says that the average amount saved among beta testers is $ 450 per year, although it is not clear how many flights were booked and how much they cost.
The service is available to the public starting today. To use it, sign in with a Google account, enter your phone number, date of birth and credit card information through Stripe. (Browder swears that the credit card information will not be stored). Then, the chatbot tells you that you are ready. Now, whenever you buy airline tickets, either from an airline's site or a third party, the chatbot will help you make sure you pay the lowest price for your class and seat.
The bot will negotiate with the airline behind the scenes using dark reservation rules
Browder gives the example of a person flying from New York to San Francisco on United Airlines. If the person booked a flight of $ 380 but the price dropped to $ 120, he said that the bot would negotiate with the airline behind the scenes, and the airline would issue a refund of $ 260. And if "there are drastically cheaper flights the same time it goes, it will ask you through SMS if you want to change ".
The chatbot uses the American exchange rules on a ticket to change flights and obtain refunds. It uses rules such as the "24-hour rule", weather warnings and airlines' compliance with the laws against price increases to find cheaper tickets. Every five seconds, the chatbot searches for an agreement until the moment of its departure, when the weather and cancellation gaps appear more frequently, according to Browder. DoNotPay actually reserves and keeps the seat for you with your own money until your old seat is canceled, using the bot's VC funds.
Because it is not versed in the rules of change of reservation of other countries, the chatbot only works on US airlines with flights departing from within the US. UU., National or international. It does not work for flights that fly from international to the United States. (The chatbot can also check lower prices on hotels of five hotel chains, including Hilton, Intercontinental, Hyatt, Marriott and Best Western, but it does not yet cover all hotels).
Compared to its predecessors, the travel chatbot DoNotPay has some improvements
Compared with its predecessors, the travel chatbot DoNotPay has some improvements. Now, people do not have to print documents like they do when they want to sue Equifax. The open nature of the chatbot for parking violations is also gone. Browder says he listened to people's comments and tried to simplify the chatbot to simplify its use.
The application seems almost too easy and simple to use. Once you enter all your information, the chatbot communicates with the airline every time you buy a ticket using the email address you have given to the bot. The only communication you receive is from the chatbot via SMS that asks you whether you want the discount or not.
Browder says his chatbots will "always" remain a free product, but he sees a way to make money with these services. If this new flight feature turns out to be popular, Browder will consider expanding it to "other industries such as insurance, healthcare and small businesses, where there may be more opportunities for it to be commercially sustainable."