Customer travel is easier with an electronic wallet, mobile ID and virtual assistant

  • Customers can easily find and redeem trip credits on aa.com and will get miles instantly redeposited when canceling an AAdvantage® award ticket.
  • A mobile ID verification trial starts at DFW and Washington D.C. airports this month.
  • Using the app, customers can chat with a customer care representative in real time.

Texas | October 21, 2020–American Airlines is implementing technological innovations to provide a smoother customer experience.

Making It Easier To Find Travel Credits and Redeposit Miles

Customers can find their flight and trip credits stored in an electronic wallet when they log in to their AAdvantage® account on aa.com. And when they’re ready to book new travel, customers can easily pay for their tickets using their travel credits by simply choosing flight credit as their payment option.

For those customers whose travel plans have changed, they can now self-serve when it comes to changing an AAdvantage award ticket on aa.com. American will automatically reinstate a customer’s miles when a customer cancels an eligible award ticket.

Testing Mobile ID  Verification

Starting Oct. 21, customers at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) will have the option to test new mobile ID technology, which verifies customers’ identities using their mobile device when they drop their bag with an agent.

Customers who choose to participate in the trial will not need to hand a form of ID to the agent as they do today. Instead, they can enroll in a third-party app prior to check-in that will create a digital ID token on their mobile device which can be used to verify their identity at the bag drop.

American is working with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to explore this mobile ID verification technology, which could ultimately reduce physical contact during the travel experience if adopted more broadly in the future.

The mobile ID trial will be available to customers at Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) starting Oct. 27

Chat With Our Virtual Assistant Or Customer Care Representatives

American’s chat platform launched this summer, answering the pressing questions customers have about traveling. In the American Airlines app, customers can use a chat function to ask the virtual assistant for help and if the conversation requires more detailed information, a customer care representative is ready to assist in real time. Customers can also receive instant answers on travel guidelines, how to change a flight and how many bags they can check.

Since the chat platform was introduced, more than 425,000 customers have used the feature to interact with the virtual assistant or American’s customer care representatives.

Clean Commitment

American continues to build on its commitment to the safety and well-being of its customers and team members throughout their journey. In addition to the airline’s extensive, multi-layered cleaning processes throughout the customer journey, the airline has focused on advancing technology developments that limits interactions and provide travelers additional peace of mind.

The American app provides a touchless experience from booking and check-in to printing bag tags for checked baggage without using a kiosk screen. For the customers who do not have the app but would like a touchless experience, American unveiled App Clips last month where customers can scan a QR code found on the home screen of the airport kiosk that will launch the check-in process on their mobile device and provides a digital boarding pass.

The airline also recently launched a new travel tool, powered by Sherpa, to help customers quickly see the current coronavirus (COVID-19) travel guidelines for domestic and international destinations

FlightPlan: Aviation Leaders Debate Solutions to Rebuild Passenger Confidence in Industry’s Largest Live Broadcast Event

Leaders from across the global aviation industry came together for a live broadcast on November 11th, which explored strategies to accelerate recovery and future growth in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. FlightPlan: Strategies for Recovery, hosted by Inmarsat Aviation and the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX), saw over 50 industry voices exchange views on the present and future of aviation.

Six months on from the hugely successful first FlightPlan broadcast event in April, with aviation still in the depths of one of its most extreme crises to date, the industry’s largest-ever virtual assembly returned to connect leaders on the digital stage once again. More than 3,500 viewers tuned in from almost 90 countries worldwide for a series of live debates, interviews and analysis.

Summarizing the day’s events, Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation, commented: “FlightPlan is a unique platform that brings together the aviation industry during this difficult time to share views, exchange best practice and strategize for the future. Yesterday’s edition attracted record audience numbers in comparison to our inaugural FlightPlan broadcast in April and we are delighted that so many leading voices participated. Together, we reflected on the challenges faced in 2020, the progress made to date, and of crucial importance, the trends that will guide the next phase of recovery.

“A wide range of initiatives have already been executed to make flying viable and safe – from an overhaul of cleaning protocols to greater social distancing across the passenger journey. Under different circumstances, many of these changes could have taken years to introduce. The next phase will delve even further into the passenger mindset, ensuring that consistent policies, measures and technologies are implemented to restore confidence in airline travel. While many hurdles still lie ahead, the single most overwhelming sentiment expressed during FlightPlan was one of optimism.”

A particular highlight of the day was the launch of Inmarsat’s ‘Passenger Confidence Tracker’, the world’s largest survey of airline passengers since the pandemic began. Reflecting the views and attitudes of almost 10,000 respondents from 12 countries, it revealed that 83 per cent of air passengers expect their travel habits to change in the long-term as a result of COVID-19.

Reflecting on what the industry can take from the study in order to rebuild confidence, Niels Steenstrup, Inmarsat Aviation’s Senior Vice President of Inflight Business, told viewers: “The fundamental message is about consistency. Passengers want to be able to board a plane anywhere and be confident that the same hygiene practices are being followed. They want a consistent set of safety standards around the world, and more consistency on quarantine rules.

He continued: “Worries about flying are all too often a result of inconsistencies and lack of assurance about what they will be met with at the airport, on the plane or at the destination. Co-operation between nations will undoubtedly help restore passenger confidence.”

Agreeing with Steenstrup, Peter Harbison, Chairman of CAPA Centre for Aviation, added that “a harmonious and standardized way for looking after passengers” is needed. “The biggest problem is the unilateralism we have seen develop,” he said.

Another key theme of the day was the growing relevancy of trust and reputation. Robert Carey, Chief Commercial and Customer Officer at easyJet, said: “In an economic downturn, customers want value and a brand they can trust.” This is supported by data from the ‘Passenger Confidence Tracker’, which finds 44 per cent of passengers believe reputation is now a more significant factor when choosing an airline than it was pre-pandemic.

“Trust is super critical for any brand, but certainly for those that have a safety component like airlines,” agreed Anton Vidgen, APEX President and Air Canada Head of Brand Experience. “It was important before the pandemic and it’s especially important during the pandemic.”

There was a clear focus throughout FlightPlan on the importance of digital solutions as a short-term solution to boost confidence and safety, through reducing touchpoints and interactions throughout the journey experience.

Gustavo Nader, Thales’ Head of Strategy, IFE and Connectivity, noted a growing trend for traveler autonomy, enabled by digitization. “Travelers are increasingly reliant on self-directed resources to get information about their travel experience,” he said. “Airports and airlines will be required to accelerate their digital transformation in a way that increases the independence of the traveler and reduces their reliance on touchpoints and interactions.”

Airline leaders echoed this, arguing that the pandemic has accelerated their digital transformation plans. Vidgen noted that Air Canada has already adopted touchless bag check and is exploring innovative technologies from biometrics to automatic gate boarding. Implementing touchless technologies throughout the journey, he believes, will ensure “that customers feel confident and can serve themselves as much as possible”.

Matt Klein, CCO of Spirit, noted another shift in passenger habits: the uptake of ancillary services. “The Spirit business model, with optionality of services, is working. There is a lot of value for guests with that and our ancillary revenue generation numbers are back where they were last year,” he stated. Research from the Passenger Confidence Tracker supports Klein’s comments, with value added services – such as extra legroom and free baggage – becoming increasingly important to passengers in 2020.

Despite the deep challenges facing aviation as a result of the pandemic, FlightPlan speakers expressed positivity in how the industry has adapted at speed, and shared optimism for the recovery phase. Perry Cantarutti, SVP Alliances, Delta Air Lines, commented that “we’re learning to realize that we can’t let it [COVID-19] conquer our ability to live our lives and run our businesses, but we have to be able to do that in a safe way”. He noted that growing travel confidence in the US domestic market in particular is an “encouraging” sign.

According to Andrés Castañeda, CMO and CXO, AeroMexico, the pandemic has led the airline – and the wider industry – to identify ways to be more agile in the future. “We can change our processes and policies faster than we ever thought we could,” he said. “With COVID, we need to reimagine how we operate to bring trust back to customers. That has been a silver lining of the past eight months.”

Ben Smith, CEO of AirFrance KLM reiterated this, stating: “The crisis has forced us to be more agile. It’s forced us to really try and be a step ahead of our competitors”. He ended with a note of optimism for the industry: “People have family and friends around the world. People like holidays. People have businesses. That’s not disappearing. If borders are open, they will come back.”

While acknowledging that passenger habits will have changed, easyJet’s Carey shared the sentiment that the appetite for travel will not dissipate. Reflecting on the passenger of the future, he said: “Are they going to interact with us [airlines] differently? Absolutely. But the brands set up to win are going to have a really bright future.”

All interviews and content aired at FlightPlan are available to view on-demand via https://flightplan.wavecast.io/

The ‘Passenger Confidence Tracker’ report is available to download free-of-charge here.


Panasonic Avionics

Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) announced the appointment of Hernan Abbes as Vice President, Global Sales.

In his new role, Hernan will play a pivotal leadership role in driving business growth and nurturing strong relationships with new and existing airline customers. He will report directly to CEO, Ken Sain, and have worldwide responsibility for developing and implementing strategic sales initiatives across Panasonic Avionics’ range of products, services and solutions.

Hernan will oversee efforts to strengthen customer relationships, listen to and understand customer needs, propose innovative solutions and share the voice of the customer feedback within Panasonic. As a member of Panasonic’s senior leadership team, he will also participate in strategy formulation and key decisions across the business.
Hernan assumes his role with a deep knowledge of Panasonic, its people and its customers, having joined the business in 2011 as an Account Manager for the Americas region. He progressed quickly upwards through a series of sales roles, and was appointed Regional Vice President for the Americas and Oceania in 2019.

Ken Sain, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, says: “Hernan is a valuable addition to Panasonic’s senior leadership team, and a skilled and proven executive who is passionate about customers, meeting their needs and exceeding expectations. Under his leadership, I have no doubt that our company will elevate our responsiveness and customers will benefit from his expertise and dedication.” Hernan Abbes, Vice President, Global Sales of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, says: “I am truly excited about my new role, and look forward to leading Panasonic’s team of incredibly talented sales executives. Our industry is facing challenging times but with the skill of our people and the strength and innovation of our services and solutions, I am confident that Panasonic will continue to grow as the provider of choice for airlines across the globe.”

Hernan Abbes’ started his career at Boeing, and then at Raytheon, as an electrical engineer developing wiring diagrams and cable assemblies, before he took a role at Thales Avionics as an installation engineer. He later transitioned into a Senior Account Manager role for Thales’ Latin America region selling In-Flight Entertainment and avionics. He has also held roles as a consultant to Gogo and a strategic account manager at Carlisle Interconnect Technologies.

Also from Panasonic:

Panasonic announced Qatar Airways as the launch customer for its new EcoFW 10” inflight entertainment (IFE) upgrade program. The seatback IFE monitors on the airline’s fleet of 37 Boeing 777 aircraft will be updated with Panasonic’s new EcoFW 10” monitor upgrade – creating a next-generation HD passenger experience while extending the life of the fleet’s IFE system, and reducing operational costs.

Panasonic’s IFE upgrade program, which can be achieved on an aircraft during routine overnight maintenance, includes the installation of a new passenger entertainment server. This provides passengers with a wider range of content and helps to modernize the airline’s offering and keep up-to-date with the demands of changing consumer preferences. This also enables the airline to achieve faster media loading times – all without any increase in weight, and with dramatically improved reliability levels.

The first aircraft from Qatar Airways’ 777 fleet has completed its IFE upgrade this week. This commitment from Qatar Airways marks the latest milestone in a longstanding partnership with Panasonic, which first started in 2000. A multiple award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was named ‘World’s Best Airline’ by the 2019 World Airline Awards, managed by Skytrax. Headquartered in Doha, the airline was launched in 1997 and is the national carrier of the State of Qatar. Qatar Airways Oryx One in-flight entertainment system offers passengers up to 4,000 entertainment options, from the latest blockbuster movies, TV box sets, music, games. and much more.


IATA

Here is an article from the folks at IATA with an evolution of the distribution impacts: “The potential size of the delivery is enormous. Just providing a single dose to 7.8 billion people would fill 8,000 747 cargo aircraft. Land transport will help, especially in developed economies with local manufacturing capacity. But vaccines cannot be delivered globally without the significant use air cargo.”

IATA – The Time to Prepare for COVID-19 Vaccine Transport is Now


Boeing

Boeing and Allen University announced today a new $1.5 million partnership to establish the Boeing Institute on Civility at Allen University. The Boeing Institute will be a national hub for teaching and provide programming aimed at advancing civil discourse in America and across the globe.
“The Institute on Civility will become a powerful catalyst for helping to promote thoughtful, civil discourse,” said Boeing President and CEO David Calhoun. “Empowering students and the broader community to debate public issues with civility and respect is an important step on the journey to developing lasting societal solutions.”

“The reach of The Boeing Company is particularly compatible with the university’s aspiration to demonstrate that service to the greater good does not stop in one’s own community, but has the obligation to be expansive,” said Allen University President Ernest McNealey. “While the Institute is the centerpiece of the Waverly Project, all aspects of it will confidently pursue a better future and honor those who did so in the past.”

“I want to thank Dr. McNealey, Mr. Calhoun and Bishop Green for their support of this Institute on Civility. We are at an inflection point in this great country and we must learn to share our lives together,” said Congressman Jim Clyburn (S.C.-6). “This Institute means a whole lot to me, this institution, this state and this nation.”

Boeing funding will support the renovation of the historic Good Samaritan-Waverly Hospital, which will house the Institute once construction is complete. The Institute will include a memorial to honor the nine victims of the 2015 Mother Emanuel AME Church tragedy in Charleston, S.C., and be the home to the South Carolina African American Hall of Fame.

Today’s investment builds on Boeing’s commitment to advancing racial equity and compliments the company’s recent $10 million investment in similar causes. Over the last five years, Boeing has invested more than $17 million in organizations to expand access and address inequities for communities of color across South Carolina.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We expect the FAA to formally unground the Boeing 737 MAX this week, most likely middle to end of the week after voting by the house say some sources. We note that the plane won’t start flying right away: Airline storage is one issue, there will be new training effort, and, of course, updating each aircraft with new software in the flight control system. Good Luck Boeing!


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