Coronavirus

United Chatbot To Help Ease COVID Concerns Among Jittery Passengers

United Airlines app

Getting ready to fly and fretting, as the coronavirus rages on, about how safe the air inside the plane will be? Wondering just how much of a wipe-down your seat and tray will be getting from the cleaning crews?

Now there is an app, or to be more precise, a chat function, for that — for those who are flying United Airlines, anyway.

The airline has launched a new chat function called the United Automated Assistant in a bid to quell anxiety among passengers about cleaning and safety in the new age of COVID-19.

By texting “Clean” to FLYUA (35982), passengers can “get answers to questions about masks, boarding procedures, touchless check-in options and more,” the airline said in a Thursday (July 30) announcement.

Specifically, the new United Automated Assistant will be able to answer a number of queries, including whether United Clubs are still open, whether are any changes to in-flight service, how to prepare for an upcoming flight, and, as well as what the airline is doing to keep “airports cleaner and safer” and, of course, air quality.

“The travel experience has changed a lot from just a few months ago — we’ve overhauled our safety and cleaning procedures and this new text functionality makes it easier for our customers to stay informed,” Linda Jojo, executive vice president for technology and chief digital officer at United Airlines, said in the announcement.

The rollout by United of its new chat function comes as the airline and others across the industry ramp up their cleaning and safety procedures in a bid to win back wary passengers at a time when demand for air travel has plunged to historic lows amid the pandemic.

Along with the new chatbot, United Airlines this week also began requiring all customers wear masks while they are in their airport waiting for their flights, in addition to when they are onboard planes. The airline also noted it is running a “high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration systems at full strength on all mainline aircraft during the entire boarding and deplaning process.”

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The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.

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