You can feel the rumblings of a culture shift at American Airlines as it opens its travel API to hackers for the first time. Let's hope the new openness isn't a one-time thing.
American Airlines is taking another step to show that the “new American” is more than just some redesigned livery: The airline is giving developers at an SXSW hackathon this weekend access to its travel API.
American, which is a “super sponsor” of the South by Southwest conference in Austin, is hosting a March 9-10 hackathon, which will mark the first time that the airline lets developers outside the airline play around with its API to hopefully create something new and cool.
AT&T will also give developers 24 hours to use its location information services API, and they therefore will likely create apps using both the American and AT&T APIs. The winner gets a check for $10,000.
APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, facilitate connections between apps, and the developers in the hackathon will be able to access American’s apps, including My Trips, My Status, My Next Flight, and Check-in/Boarding Pass.
“For now, the API is open to developers as a one-time event at the hackathon, but we will be doing a post-evaluation to consider what we would like to open up in the future,” an American Airlines spokesperson says.
Is there a chance American will incorporate one of the SXSW hackathon apps into the airline’s own mobile offerings?
“We are excited to see what outside developers will do with our data,” the American Airlines spokesperson says. “We will certainly evaluate their solutions and see how they might apply to our business. It is a new way for us to look at mobile development, we want to continue to stay innovative and this is a great way to do it.”
If in the past, if you couldn’t imagine American Airlines sponsoring a hackathon, let alone providing access to its API, then consider that the airline also recently launched an investment fund for startups.