Tech: A host of apps have arrived to cut down your travel woes
Before you set off on that winter holiday, read this to figure what app you must download
Amit Nandi, a 28-year-old media professional, needed to buy an AC train ticket to Dibrugarh in Assam, a few days ago. He found out that that he could only get a wait-listed ticket. He had three options: either pay more than double for a premium tatkal ticket, book an expensive plane ticket, or simply postpone his travel plans.
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So, what does he do?
"Till a few months ago, I would have just opted for the premium tatkal ticket, but now I have an idea that there are 75% chances of the waitlisted ticket getting confirmed," he says.
Predicting ticket status
Nandi is referring to the new PNR prediction tool that homegrown travel search engine, Ixigo.com launched in July on its mobile app. The tool calculates the chances of confirmation of a railway ticket, based on the ticket’s PNR and booking status, by analysing data on tickets using a prediction algorithm.
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The company, on its blog, mentions that it has mined data from over 10 million PNRs over the last two years. The tool’s current prediction accuracy stands at 90%, and the company hopes it to increase with time.
This is just one of the many services and technologies that are making travel easier and smoother.
Order a wheelchair
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a subsidiary of Indian Railways, already offers services like E-wheelchair at 23 stations including Mumbai CST and Mumbai Central. It allows one to book a wheelchair for the elderly, differently-abled and patients in advance via its website, Irctctourism.com. This service has to be booked four to 72 hours in advance, depending on the station. The website can also be used to book concierge services like pick-up and drop facility, currently available at 22 stations (Mumbai is not in the list yet).
"We are working towards making pick-up and drop services available at all major stations in India along with wheelchairs service to make travelling smoother and easier for senior citizens," says Robin Kalita, director, catering services, IRCTC.
Food delivery on the go
Whether you are travelling by train or waiting near the boarding gate, you can get food delivered right at your seat, thanks to several recently launched services. One such service is Food@Gate, launched by Travel and Food Services (TFS) at the domestic terminal of Mumbai airport. "We promise to deliver food within 20 minutes, and if we fail, it’s given for free," says Gaurav Dewan of TFS.
If you are travelling by train, you can get food delivered right at your seat using IRCTC’s e-catering service. "We are also offering e-catering services in more than 1,500 trains at the moment via the website E-catering.irctc.co.in and the app, Food on Track. We have also tied up with food aggregators like Foodpanda to bring more choices to travellers," says Kalita. While food is already available on the IRCTC e-catering site, travellers will be able to order via the Foodpanda app in Delhi by January. The services will be launched in other cities including Mumbai soon after. Even Dewan’s TFS is part of the railways’ e-catering service. "All these services will change the way we look at food service in railways," adds Kalita.
Budget and luxury stay
Bad stay arrangements are a recipe for disaster. But thanks to new app-based services, travellers now have more options across price categories. While one can rely on Oyo Rooms and ZoRooms for standardised budget hotel rooms across India, AirBNB and Homestays.in are good for those looking for homestays. For luxury stays, you can try Saffronstays.com, which allows you to book luxury villas and guesthouses.
All this is good, but what if you don’t have the time to book every service independently? This is where Tripigator comes to the rescue. The website (and app) allows you to plan everything from your train/plane tickets to hotels and activities at a destination, on a single platform. Think of it as your modern travel agent.
For those of you who travel by air, losing your baggage is always one of the major causes of stress, isn’t it? Well, you can expect this problem to be resolved by June 2018. IATA recently passed a resolution (753), which requires all airlines and airports to maintain an accurate inventory of baggage, which will allow travellers to know their baggage’s location prior to departure, and take measures to ensure that it reaches the destination. In fact, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has already signed up a deal with a private company to offer real time baggage tracking in Kolkata and Chennai. Expect similar announcements from GVK, which manages Mumbai and Delhi airports.
Glympse: Share your GPS location with friends while going to unknown places. The location details expire automatically.
Pack point: Packing list organiser and packing planner.
Mumbai T2 App: Acts as your personal assistant at Mumbai’s T2 terminal.
A TFS employee taking an order via the app, Food@Gate
IRCTC Connect: Book train tickets and accommodation anywhere in India
India Travel Guide by Triposo: A complete travel guide to India that works offline. For international travels try World Travel
AirBNB: For stay options across the world.
HERE Maps: Allows you to navigate using maps without using data connection.
Uber, Ola Cabs, Bookmycab, etc: To book vehicles on the go.
Skyscanner, IXIGO: Search cheap air tickets from all airlines and travel agents.
Kayak: Flight tracker, itinerary management, and one-stop app to search and book hotel and flight.