Iberia To Offer Passenger Support Via WhatsApp

Iberia has announced the launch of its new Spanish-language passenger support service on WhatsApp. Passengers can now check flight information and flight status, as well as check in using the new WhatsApp service.

An Iberia Airbus A321
Iberia is currently implementing its new digital transformation programme. Photo: Mike McBey via Flickr

On Wednesday Iberia announced a new virtual assistant service which provides customers a number of key functionalities via a WhatsApp chatbot. The Spanish flag carrier posted a press release detailing the new Spanish-language WhatsApp service, which it hopes will make its customers’ pre-flight routine even easier.

Although it’s not the first airline to introduce a WhatsApp service, Iberia’s new chatbot will allow customers to perform a number of key functions via WhatsApp. These include checking the status of flights, accessing general information about upcoming trips and also checking in to flights within the Schengen Area (with a couple of specific exceptions).

These are all functions that can already be performed in-app. But WhatsApp offers an even quicker, less data-intensive way of doing it.

How did Iberia develop the platform?

Iberia is making use of the standard version of WhatsApp as the user interface for their virtual assistant service.

For the behind-the-scenes workings, they enlisted the services of Mindsay, a software company that develops conversational AI and chatbots. Mindsay has previously worked with a number of big-name brands, such as Disneyland Paris, Vueling and CWT, and aims to make their user-facing text as lifelike as possible.

The bot used in the Iberia WhatsApp service has already been implemented elsewhere. Mindsay’s co-founder and CEO, Guillaume Laporte, said,

“After our successful work to successfully launch the bot on their mobile app and Messenger, we’re thrilled to continue to be their trusted partner for the launch of the WhatsApp bot”.

A Spirit Airlines Airbus A321
Spirit Airlines has already released a WhatsApp booking service. Photo: Tomás Del Coro via Flickr

The WhatsApp chatbot project is part of Iberia’s ongoing digital transformation process. It intends to drive a cultural shift within the company by embracing technology.

Alongside WhatsApp, the airline has rolled out its own ‘skill’ for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and also plans to introduce virtual reality glasses for use in-flight.

Good news for Spanish speakers, but what about the rest of us?

As a Spanish airline, with a primarily Spanish speaking customer base, Iberia is launching its WhatsApp virtual assistant as a Spanish-language service only. Discussing the new service, Iberia’s Chief Transformation Officer, Gabriel Perdiguero, said,

“WhatsApp is the most popular messaging application in Spain and many other countries, and starting today we will be able to answer questions simply and quickly.”

Spain is by no means the entirety of Iberia’s Spanish speaking customer base. Iberia flies to the US and the majority of Latin America, which are home to more than 400 million native Spanish speakers.

An Iberia Airbus A350
Iberia has plans to release an English-language version of the chatbot. Photo: Adam Moreira via Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately, for many of us, a Spanish WhatsApp service is not that useful. But fear not – Iberia has plans to release an English-language version, as well as adding more functions to the current one.

Although Iberia has not announced a timeline for the English-language version of the chatbot just yet, Mindsay’s experience releasing English-language chatbots for other clients should mean it’s not too far around the corner.