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How United is Leading the Tech Pack

A United 777-300ER at Paine Field. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

United Airlines has been leading the pack in the United States when it comes to harnessing technology. Over the past several years, the airline has methodically improved the functionality of its consumer app and website to allow for greater self-service across the board. This is something that many other airline apps lack. This becomes a major issue during flight delays and cancellations when customer service lines at the airport are long and wait times to talk to customer service on the phone are often hours long.

United has taken some steps to make this process easier for travelers. The latest app update includes a slew of advancements that are focused on helping travelers cope with flight delays or cancellations.

If a flight experiences a delay of more than 60 minutes or is canceled, then customers will automatically see alternate options right on the home screen of the United app. Passengers will be able to see if they’ve been rebooked and, if they aren’t satisfied with the automatic rebooking, they would be able to explore alternate options that are available to them. They would also be able to receive hotel, meal, and/or rideshare vouchers directly within the app if they qualify.

If it is necessary to speak to a customer service agent, the app can help connect passengers via call, text, or video call to agents who have the same capabilities as customer service agents at the airport. This removes the frustration of calling an airline and being told you need to speak to someone at the airport for assistance with things like vouchers or a hotel due to a delay.

Innovating Under Scrutiny

All of this is being rolled out at a time when air travel is facing increased scrutiny. The Biden administration has made dealing with airline fees and compensation for passengers in case of irregular operations a priority.

United has played very close with the government in recent years so it is no surprise United is jumping on this to get ahead of the curve. United and its CEO Scott Kirby are no strangers to the current Biden administration.

First, United’s CEO Scott Kirby was part of an advisory board reporting directly to the President. Then United made its Covid-19 vaccine requirement announcement nearly in tandem with the Biden administration. Additionally, the airline was given public commendations for flying in baby formula during the shortage recently. Last year around this time, Kirby was yet again at the White House making a number of announcements about environmental protection enhancements at a White House event.

It certainly helps that United’s Chief Communications Officer, Josh Earnest, was the Obama administration’s press secretary. It’s quite evident that United is playing the long game in aligning with the current administration and these new features in the app are yet another example of the airline aligning itself with this administration’s agenda.

Agenda or not, these enhancements to the app undoubtedly help the consumer. United has a proven track record of building stellar technology that improves the flying experience. The crown jewel of that in my opinion is ConnectionSaver. This tool was first released in 2019 and aims to reduce the number of passengers who misconnect by strategically delaying flights just long enough for connecting passengers to arrive while still maintaining an on-time or relatively on-time departure.

Hemal Gosai

Author

  • Hemal Gosai

    Hemal took his first flight at four years old and has been an avgeek since then. When he isn't working as an analyst he's frequently found outside watching planes fly overhead or flying in them. His favorite plane is the 747-8i which Lufthansa thankfully flies to EWR allowing for some great spotting. He firmly believes that the best way to fly between JFK and BOS is via DFW and is always willing to go for that extra elite qualifying mile.

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