Siri and flight status

I love Siri. There are so many positives, I hate to gripe. But flight status is low hanging fruit and something Siri should be able to do quite easily. Here’s an example.

Bring up a Google search and type:

united airlines flight 12

In reply, you’ll see something like this:

flight status

This is very helpful. When I press-and-hold for Siri, say, “united airlines flight 12″ or “flight status united airlines flight 12″, I get a list of web searches. Even if one of those web searches led me to the exact search I was looking for, this is an unambiguous query. To me, Siri should know that I want the flight status of a specific flight and go get it.

To be fair, I can say this to Siri:

Google search united airlines flight 12

This will, indeed, give the results I seek. But Siri shouldn’t need that sort of assistance. At the very least, when I say “flight status”, Siri should know what I want and how to get it. More importantly, Siri should not have to depend on Google for this type of request.

All that said, Siri is still a marvel and does an awful lot that I find useful. Perhaps file this one under suggestion instead of complaint. But please fix it either way. I’ve got flights to track.



  • willo

    why ask Siri when you can Google it?

    • http://www.laugh-eat.com/ mdelvecchio

      fewer steps is always better than more steps.

  • http://Marcos.Kirsch.com.mx/ Marcos

    The really interesting thing is that before Apple bought Siri and it was a standalone app, flight information is one of the things Siri did really well.

    Another interesting note is that Google owns the company that provides flight information to everyone (Expedia, etc.) so if Apple wants to add this capability back to Siri, it will indeed depend on Google whether you know it or not.

    • http://www.laugh-eat.com/ mdelvecchio

      i think you have your answer.

    • Vera Comment

      “Google owns the company that provides flight information to everyone”.. and who is that?

      AIRLINES use these guys: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FlightAware

      I find it hard to believe Google is the only source. Every airline and airport pokes google for flight info?

      FlightAware also provides weather, fuel prices, and flight planning services.

  • Paul

    Why not just give the people the choice of making Google or what ever they want for the search engine for sir.

  • impaler

    Agreed. Apple really needs to adds features to Siri. But many of them depend on acquisitions of companies that aggregate data. That will take time and funds.

  • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

    I hadn’t tried it as a search (just used the automatic card) but this does work in Google Now and the result is read to me. Thx for the tip.

    As for Siri, I agree.

  • http://hippotrouble.com/ japtor

    For seemingly low hanging fruit that Siri doesn’t get, I try “wolfram [query]“. It’s being kind of wonky right now (seems to be returning incomplete data in Siri’s interface) but I’ve used it for checking on flights before.

  • Zepfhyr

    In iOS 6, Siri responded with flight information almost every time. Its source is Wolfram Alpha. In fact, if you say “Wolfram united airlines flight 12″, you will get the information you seek, though it’s not nearly as pretty.

    You can also ask Siri “what flights are overhead right now” to get a list of flights that Wolfram says are in your vicinity.

    My guess is that this is a bug, not an oversight.

    • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

      That’s his point: you shouldn’t have to preface it with a specific engine. I tried without saying ‘wolfram’ and it was a web search. I said it with ‘wolfram’ and it gave a card with weird flight info: more on the aircraft than the flight status [had the destination but not the departure city].

      • Zepfhyr

        Yes, but if you actually read my comment rather than jumping in as fast as you can to say I missed his point, you’ll see that I indicate that the behavior changed between iOS 6 and iOS 7 (to my knowledge, iOS 6 didn’t require a preface of “Wolfram” in order to work, though I don’t have an iOS 6 device to test).

        This is why I said that it is most likely a bug, not a failure on Apple’s part to bake the feature into Siri as it is in Google Now. But, since I never used Siri to check flight status in the past, I can’t say for certain if this is the case. If you have an iOS 6 device and can check, I’m happy to admit to being wrong on that one.

        All that said, even WITH Wolfram Alpha, the display of flight information is nowhere near as palatable as it is in Google Now, which IS a huge oversight and should be fixed as soon as possible.

  • Quinn Taylor

    File a Radar asking for it at bugreport.apple.com — more requests shows greater customer demand.