Staff Reporters
May 11, 2017

Photos: British Airways hosts hackathon aboard Hong Kong-to-London flight

More than 30 developers from around the world participated in a 72-hour event focused on upgrading aspects of the travel experience.

A 72-hour event called Hack Horizon started in Hong Kong and ended with pitch presentations in London on the evening of 8 May, where participants revealed ideas and prototypes for making travel simpler, safer and cheaper.

The hackathon was organised and sponsored by British Airways, Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), Heathrow Airport, Travelport, Skyscanner, MTR and Regal Hotels.

The 32 participants included designers and entrepreneurs from the UK, US, South America and Asia, who were selected from almost 700 global applications.

Divided into eight teams, they were tasked to develop an innovative travel technology product at airports, hotels and onboard a 12-hour British Airways flight between Hong Kong and Heathrow—the idea being to immmerse participants in the travel experience and give them immediate access to feedback from real travelers about their actual pain points.

Ideas presented at the end included:

  • The winning concept: An in-flight entertainment to mobile retail solution that allows passengers to book activities for their destination whilst on a flight 
  • The second-place project: A global traveller network giving passengers access to best-priced luxury duty free, came in second place.
  • An end-to-end security luggage transfer service powered by blockchain
  • A smartwatch that leverages deep learning to personalise the passenger experience at airports
  • A digital service for parents who need to arrange for their children to travel internationally on their own
  • A chatbot to help groups collaborate on trips and bookings

Richard Tams, British Airways’ executive vice president for China:

We are very excited to see so many talented people working towards ideas that may one day re-define the travel technology. British Airways is proud to be a partner to support this cross-continent collaboration that will benefit the industry as a whole.

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