Why we exist.
When I tell the story of Freebird, people often ask me how I developed conviction around the idea so quickly — after only a few months, I dropped out of Harvard Business School to build it. I’ll admit, it was fast. However the answer to their question is simple:
I fell in love with our mission — to empower travelers — and couldn’t stop thinking about it.
My co-founder and I had a hunch that we were onto something big, with the potential to benefit consumers everywhere, but I didn’t realize how personal it was until Freebird experienced its first real-life flight cancellation and customer rebooking.
Although we had performed simulations hundreds of times, it was the first time our end-to-end technology stitched together notifications, availability, and rebooking services for a real passenger on a real flight. It was thrilling, to be sure. But as I watched the data roll in and the scenario unfold, I realized this wasn’t just anyone using Freebird. It was family.
My sister was in New York City attending an important business meeting when her flight home to Chicago (and my 18-month-old niece) was cancelled without warning. After receiving a Freebird text and conferring quickly with her colleagues about timing, it took my sister less than 30 seconds to rebook on a different airline, which departed 90 minutes earlier than her original flight. And it didn’t cost her an additional penny.
Her original airline didn’t contact her about the cancellation until more than 15 minutes after she’d heard from Freebird — by which time she’d already rebooked via Freebird on a different airline.
The automated message from the original airline told my sister “not to worry,” she was auto-booked onto the next available flight, departing 7am the following day out of a different, less convenient airport. But wait, it gets worse.
After calling the call center, they also informed her that not only were all other flights on their airline full, but they couldn’t help her book a hotel — even though the new flight they assigned her was the next morning — unless she spoke directly with a gate agent. Mind you, this was at 1pm in the afternoon while she was preparing for an important business meeting. She wasn’t planning on leaving for the airport for another five hours.
By the time her meetings were over, all flight availability that night had disappeared across all airlines.
Without Freebird, she wouldn’t have gotten home to her 18-month-old daughter.
In her own words: “Getting home was so important, but being calm and focused was so important for my work, too. I can’t express just how many ways Freebird made my life better that day!!!”
It was pure coincidence that our first Freebird rebooking was for family, but it reaffirmed everything I’d felt all along, in the most personal way possible: Freebird is about helping travelers get to the people and places that matter most.
Our mission is to empower travelers — and we hope we can count you as one of them this winter. Happy holidays… and here’s to safe, stress-free travels!
Power to the traveler!