United Airlines to Partner with IBM and Apple to Overhaul Mobile Technology to Help Improve Customer Service

By Paul Riegler on 2 February 2017
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United Airlines said Thursday it plans to work with IBM and Apple to develop new apps that will streamline customer service and upgrade the 50,000 iPhones and iPads its customer-facing employees use.

The Chicago-based airline will work with the two tech companies on designing new apps and integrating them with existing back-office technology it uses to run the airline.

United plans to create technology that will give front-line flight attendants, gate agents, and other customer-facing staff new tools that will allow them to address specific customer situations while tapping into that customer’s past flight history and preferences.   In the case of a delayed passenger on his first of several flights, the new tools would give a flight attendant the ability to offer him alternative connections that would suit his travel habits and rebook him in real time.

The resultant solutions will give United’s employees the ability to “tap into the right information at the right time to instantaneously address the needs that matter most to passengers,” said Dee Waddell, IBM’s global managing director for travel and transportation.

The airline, whose flight attendants currently use the iPhone 6 Plus for in-flight service including taking meal preferences, plans to add other tools for flight attendants such as providing the ability to offer compensation in the form of frequent flyer miles if something goes amiss, something that other airlines, including Delta, already have. In addition, United plans to upgrade flight attendant devices to the iPhone 7 Plus.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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