United is gearing up for a record-setting Thanksgiving travel season, with more than 5.9 million people expected to fly the airline between November 17-29. Knowing that every minute will count for travellers eager to reunite with loved ones for the holiday, United's customer experience team has been working all year on industry-first innovations that help travellers skip lines, get through security faster, make tight connections and improve the overall travel experience.
"This time of year is all about connecting with family and friends, and we're preparing to help all customers – whether they're a seasoned traveller or once-a-year flier – get to their destinations on time," said Linda Jojo, United's Chief Customer Officer.
"Nearly three-quarters of our customers travel with the United mobile app, and they tell us that they like the ability to skip many lines, enjoy prompt personalized service when they need it and appreciate the peace of mind they get from the information on the United app."
Since the start of the year, United has launched or enhanced dozens of new innovations in its mobile app, at its airports and onboard its aircraft to help travellers prepare for their trips – offering more transparency, saving time and reducing stress from booking to departure.
United is the first and only airline to offer a dynamic seat map that allows children under 12 to be seated next to an adult in their party for free at time of booking. Since announcing this new feature earlier this year, United has helped more than 200,000 families book seats together for free. United's "bag drop shortcut" allows customers who check in on the United app to skip the check-in line and drop off their bag curbside or at a separate, dedicated location in the airport lobby. On average, customers can drop their checked-in bags in one minute with bag drop shortcut. The service has expanded to more airports this year, and customers will see the most convenient bag drop shortcut location when they check in online. Customers can pre-order their meal and snacks up to 24 hours prior to departure to better help them get their first choice of in-flight food or beverage. Customers are automatically notified that pre-order is available five days before their departure, and they can make food and beverage selections for their trip in the United mobile app or united.com.
Customers receive personalized day-of instructions to navigate point-to-point throughout certain airports with United's Terminal Guide. From directing customers to the most ideal airport entrance to finding their departure gate, the United app helps customers find their way with confidence and ease. United is the first and only U.S. airline to support Live Activities for iPhone, giving customers real-time access to their boarding pass, gate and seat number, and countdown clock to departure time on their Lock Screen or while unlocked in the Dynamic Island, all without opening the United app. The live updates have helped millions of travellers since launching earlier this year, with the majority using them to access their boarding pass and entertainment options. Last week, United launched the ability for Android users to also see real-time flight information on their lock screens, which is also a first-of-its-kind feature. Plus, United sends personalised, real-time updates via text notifications with timely information about boarding, gate location, travel disruptions, bag tracking and more, providing awareness into flight plans or status.
United's ConnectionSaver technology automatically scans flights for customers who are making tight connections to determine if the connecting flight can be held without inconveniencing other customers. So far this year, ConnectionSaver helped more than 600,000 United customers make their connecting flights – and has saved more than 2 million connections since launching in 2019. To help save customers valuable time during their travels, United recently introduced a new 'WILMA' or window-middle-aisle boarding system, which can save up to two minutes on boarding per departure.
Earlier this year, United launched new mobile app features that automatically present personalized re-booking options, bag tracking information and meal and hotel vouchers when eligible if their flight is delayed or cancelled, all without waiting in line at the airport line or calling the customer contact centre. Since announcing the features in June, customers have responded well to having alternate travel options automatically served to them in the app, getting them back on their way more quickly after a flight disruption or cancellation. Only United offers "Agent on Demand" – allowing customers to scan a QR code or use the United app to video chat, text or call a customer service representative instead of waiting in line at the airport. This year alone, more than 1.5 million customers have used Agent on Demand to get real-time information on flight status, upgrade and standby lists, seat assignments, irregular operation assistance and more. Agent on Demand is available at all airports where United flies.