Unless you’re a business flyer or willing to fork out a bit of cash to get into a plush lounge, chances are that catching a flight will entail a few hours sitting around on extremely uncomfortable chairs and whiling time away browsing bookstores in one airport or another.
New iOS app Flio wants to make that airport experience as pleasant as possible by helping people find their way around, get discounts at airport shops and, most importantly, provide them instant WiFi access.
Developed by Stephan Uhrenbacher, the founder of Qype and short-term home holiday rental marketplace 9flats, Andy Watson, formerly of Spotify, and Ken Knoll of London startup Air Media Solutions, Flio works by instantly connecting a user to airport WiFi through the app – no messing around trying to find the right connection and having to sign up to a mailing list for the privilege of internet – and then providing them with tips for, and directions around, the airport, such as where to find shops, smokers areas, or kids play spots.
“As a frequent flyer, I wanted something to take the stress out of my time at the airport and help me locate the information and services I cared about,” Uhrenbacher said.
“Flio was born out of the desire to make the entire airport experience better, and in developing the app, we considered travellers’ needs from the moment they step foot in the airport.”
It has a number of major retailers on board, including Starbucks and World Duty Free, and is working with “two of the top five global travel brands.” The startup recently partnered with flight comparison service Skyscanner in a deal that will see the two companies “cross promote their services through their respective platforms”, introducing Flio to Skyscanner’s 40 million unique monthly users.
The app is set to add the ability for users to book airport-related services, such as access to fast-track security lanes, lounges, and transport. Flio will take a fee for each booking made through the app, as well as each time a user makes use of a discount at a partner store.
Flio is just the latest airport app to launch over the last couple of months; another popular service is LoungeBuddy, dubbed the ‘Yelp of airport lounges’. With the fastidious access rules that once governed airport lounges no longer applying to every lounge, more are now open to us ordinary plebs flying economy willing to shell out for a few hours of comfort. LoungeBuddy helps get users the best deals on those open loungers.
Clearly, we’ve all been frustrated with the airport experience for a very long time – users are flocking to these apps. According to Uhrenbacher, Flio has a “healthy 5-digit number of users” after a month of being live, which is “much more” than the founders expected.
The app currently offers data for around 100 airports around Europe and the US, though its full suite of features is not yet available at each; predictably, the biggest challenge for the Flio team has been enabling the instant WiFi access for each airport.
The team hopes to expand into 200 airports by the end of the year, and an Android app is set for release over the next few months.
Image: Stephan Uhrenbacher, Co-Founder of Flio. Source: Provided.