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United Airlines streamlines traveling via iPhone app

July 27, 2011

United Airlines is making flights easier for consumers via an iPhone  application that lets them book flights, check in and manage their accounts.

The app is available in Apple’s App Store and is planned to launch on Android platforms shortly. United and Continental are owned by United Continental Holdings, Inc.

“Our customers are handling an increasing number of their interactions with us through their mobile devices,” said Jared Miller, managing director of self-service and emerging technology at United, Chicago.

“The app has been built to enable an improved experience while empowering the customer with quick access to important travel details,” he said.

One-swipe booking
In addition to booking flights and checking in, consumers can also access mobile boarding passes on the app.

Mobile boarding passes are accepted at 101 airports worldwide on United and Continental flights.

The app also lets users get real-time results for flight statuses and view interactive airport maps.

The United Airline app is also linked to the company’s Twitter feed, which is regularly updated with customer service posts.

“The focus initially revolved around enabling quick access to day-of-departure, travel-related activities such as check-in, flight status, airport navigation, and of course quick access to mobile boarding passes,” Mr. Miller said.

“However, there are many other travel planning features included in the app such as flight booking, timetables, frequent flyer account management and more,” he said.

Growing need
The United Airline app is an example of a larger trend the mobile industry has seen lately – every airline and travel company is meeting the needs of travelers on mobile devices, which makes sense based on their on-the-go qualities.

“Over the past 15 years, airlines and others in the travel industry have provided increasing levels of convenience and transparency through various self-service options through kiosks, the Web, digital signage, proactive notifications, and more,” Mr. Miller said.

“Mobile provides a unique opportunity to deliver most of the same experiences historically handled through those other channels, all through the customer’s device which is typically with them all the time,” he said.

“Customers can now get the information they need, buy the products they want, choose services they desire when and where they want.”

In addition to United, international airline Lufthansa recently launched an iPad app targeted towards international consumers. (see story).

Going forward, United sees the possibilities to tap into more user-generated technology with travel information.

“There is a tremendous opportunity to blend location based services into the mobile travel customer experience,” Mr. Miller said.

“This will not only help customers navigate through airports more efficiently, but enable much-improved levels of personalization of offers, content, and advertising,” he said.

“Additionally, the implementation of NFC will likely facilitate a quicker path through the airport, among other benefits.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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