United Launches Virtual Airport Assistance At US Hubs

A new initiative by United Airlines will provide travelers with contactless access to customer service at the airline’s hub airports. The new “Agent on Demand” will be accessed via a QR-code and offer several communication options. It is already in operation in Chicago and Houston and will be available at all other United hubs by the end of the year.

United launches virtual assistant at airports
United Airlines is launching a new on-demand virtual assistant at its hub airports. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | JFKJets.com

Service while social distancing

The race to secure the confidence of the US air traveler continues. In the next step towards a contactless airport experience, United Airlines announced Tuesday that it is launching a new “Agent on Demand” virtual customer service at its hubs.

“We know how important it is for our customers to have more options for a contactless travel experience and this tool makes it easy to quickly receive personalized support directly from a live agent at the airport while maintaining social distancing,” Linda Jojo, United’s Executive Vice President for Technology and Chief Digital Officer said in a statement seen by Simple Flying.

She further said that the service would allow travelers to bypass waiting in line at the gate. Instead, they will be able to connect to customer service agents through their mobile devices, thus receiving service while “prioritizing health and safety.”

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United Airlines new virtual assitant
United’s customer service will now be available from anywhere in the airport via a QR-code. Photo: United Airlines

QR-codes and select kiosks

At United’s hub airports, there will be signs with a QR-code that will provide access to the service when scanned. Passengers can also contact the virtual assistant at select self-service kiosks at Chicago O’Hare and Denver International Airport. They will then have the option to connect with a service agent via chat, phone, or a video call.

Issues covered will be those travelers would normally contact a gate agent to resolve, such as seat assignments, upgrades, rebooking, etc. However, this can now be done anywhere in the airport, rather than people congregating at one specific spot.

Translation from over 100 languages

The new digital assistance chat-function will have a built-in translation feature, which will allow travelers to contact United agents in more than 100 languages. Customers will choose which language they wish to communicate in, and it will automatically be transcribed in English for the agent on the other end.

The newly debuted contactless option is already available at Chicago O’Hare and Houston’s George Bush International Airport. It will roll out at other hubs by the end of the year.

United Airlines
United has also debuted a transatlantic test scheme. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | JFKJets.com

Not the first pioneering COVID-move

This is not the only first of United’s in the slow trek to rebooting travel in the time of Corona. In a sign of potential regimes to come, in Mid-November, the airline first operated a flight between New York and London where every single passenger over the age of two had been tested for COVID-19.

While this is a wide-spread requirement from some destination countries and thus, airlines, the difference was that this was within the framework of the airline’s own program. This uses the rapid Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test, which provides results in 30 minutes. United still operates this trial for a potential get-out-of-quarantine testing scheme for another week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

What do you think of United’s new virtual assistance initiative? Do you think more airlines should follow suit? Let us know in the comments.