Hopper’s new AI predictive travel agent is dangerous for impulse flight buyers

If you unexpectedly get an automatic “out of office” email from me next month, blame the robots. I’ve been known to peruse the color-coded flight deal calendar in Hopper’s travel app from time to time, but now I fear I’m screwed: Hopper just launched a new feature called Flex Time, which suggests hard-to-resist deals on flights based on broad criteria, like a general time or destination.

Say you want to go to Europe for six days in the spring, but haven’t made up your mind about the details. Hopper will attempt to remove the guesswork and suggest some of the best flights it finds as it analyzes billions of flights every day. Until now, you had to know exactly where you wanted to go and when to get the most savings out of Hopper. The app helpfully sends notifications when it finds good deals on flights you’re watching, but again, it’s just for the destination and time frame that you define. Now it can offer much more open-ended suggestions.

Using a Pandora-style thumbs up/down system, Hopper will try its best to learn from your preferences and habits over time.