Starting today, you have one less excuse for being late to pick up your brother at the airport. Amazon’s Alexa voice services now work with Kayak to help you track flight arrival and departure times, so you can call out to your Echo, Tap, Triby, or other Alexa-enabled device right before running out the door to the airport.
“Alexa, ask Kayak when the flight from New York will arrive,” you might say. “I found the following flight from New York to Boston,” Alexa might reply, knowing your home airport because you previously added it. “United Airlines 1464 arrives at 9:54AM with a delay of four minutes at terminal D.”
Along with flight tracking, you can also use Alexa to search with Kayak’s Explore function. This lets you say something like, “Alexa, ask Kayak where I can go for $500.” Alexa replies with a list of three destinations that you can fly to for that amount of money, and won’t include cheaper trips like a $120 flight because, well, you said you wanted to spend $500. You can drill down further, including the month you want to fly (say August) or by telling Alexa you want to go to a country or general region (like Europe, South America, or Asia). And you can use this same method to get information on hotels and rental cars.
Asking Alexa for travel inspiration is sure to become yet another popular party trick. But it’s a bit of a tease to just talk about a potential flight to Rome while stirring a pot of spaghetti in your Ohio kitchen. If that flight / hotel / rental car research somehow synced back to your Kayak account, you could pick up where you left off the next time you opened your Kayak app or logged in on the Kayak website. But this doesn’t work — at least not yet. Kayak’s CTO, Giorgos Zacharia, says this feature is being added and will work sometime in the next six months. Along with syncing your verbal research back to your Kayak account, your Kayak account preferences would sync over to Alexa. So if your account is set to know you only want to fly United and only stay in five-star hotels, your Kayak queries on Alexa would return results curated around those preferences.
Today, the trips you talk about or flights you track with Alexa are saved (but only as plain text, not hyperlinks) on cards in the Alexa app.
Kayak isn’t the first travel search engine to integrate with Alexa, though it is the first to track flights. In November, UK-based Skyscanner started working with Alexa so people could use it to search for flight options.