Published on : Friday, July 31, 2020
United Airlines today launched a new chat function – the United Automated Assistant – to give customers a contactless option to receive immediate access to information about cleaning and safety procedures put in place due to COVID-19. Customers can text “Clean” to FLYUA (35982) and get answers to questions about masks, boarding procedures, touchless check-in options and more, without having to call, search online or wait in a line for an answer. The United Automated Assistant is one of many recent innovations that have been developed to modernize the airline’s service and create a more seamless experience for our customers. This launch follows another recently announced digital product that allows United customers on standby and upgrade lists to receive text notifications once they have been cleared and assigned a seat, saving them time and further limiting person-to-person interactions.
“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,” said Linda Jojo, Executive Vice President for Technology and Chief Digital Officer. “Whether you want to know the latest about our social distancing and face covering policies or see how the boarding and deplaning process has changed, our Automated Assistant is designed to meet the customer where they are and get them answers in a simple, fast and easy way.”
The United Automated Assistant answers customers questions like:
The United Automated Assistant is part of the airline’s United CleanPlus program, an effort to put health and safety at the forefront of the entire customer experience, that includes partnerships with Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic, a mandatory mask policy, electrostatic spraying, touchless check-in capabilities and a first-of-its kind, pre-boarding health self-assessment for passengers.
This week, United started requiring customers to wear a face covering in the more than 360 airports where the airline operates around the world, in addition to onboard the aircraft, and is now running the high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration systems at full strength on all mainline aircraft during the entire boarding and deplaning process, helping to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Earlier this month, United debuted new text alerts for passengers on standby and upgrade lists. Cleared upgrade and standby customers, who have opted-in to receive text notifications about their flights, will now receive a text message asking them to refresh their boarding pass on the United app, where they will be able to find their seat assignment and boarding information. This new process will help further minimize touchpoints between gate agents and customers to create a more touchless travel experience. Other measures put in place include:
Limiting Number of Passengers on Board
The airline is also taking steps to limit the overall number of people onboard and separate customers wherever possible. United switched to a larger plane 66 times a day in May and June, for a total of more than 4,000 flights during those months, creating more space onboard. As a result, the airline’s consolidated average seat factor – or the percentage of occupied seats including customers and non-revenue passengers – was 38% in May; 57% in June and is expected to be about 45% in July, with less than 15% of flights operating with more than 70% seats filled.
When United flights are less full, the airline’s advanced automated seating tool assigns seats in a way that maximizes the space on board – and the distance between customers. And since May, United has been contacting customers via email and through the United app – as much as 24 hours in advance – if their flight is expected to be more than 70% full and gives them options to switch to different, less full flights for no additional fees. Customers also have the option to cancel their flight and receive a credit for future travel. To date, the overwhelming majority of customers choose to keep their travel plans the same.
In addition to the vital initiatives mentioned above, several of the airline’s precautionary measures to further ensure a cleaner environment include:
At the Gate