United Now Texts Live Radar Maps and Uses AI to Keep Travelers Informed During Weather Delays


As part of industry-leading efforts to communicate to customers in real-time, airline uses AI tools to send travelers information about their trip, especially if things don't go as planned.
Real-time radar maps can help customers understand how inclement weather in one part of the country can impact a flight elsewhere.
Credit: United Airlines

CHICAGO /PRNewswire/ — United now texts customers links to local, live radar maps during weather delays, as part of its industry-leading effort to give travelers as much real-time information as possible about their trip, especially if things don't go as planned. For the past few years, the airline has used dedicated teams to write and send text messages to customers that give near-instantaneous details about a given flight – everything from gate changes and boarding times to more specifics regarding aircraft swaps, crew rescheduling and weather events – and the teams now use generative artificial intelligence (gen AI) tools to assist in giving more travelers real-time updates during flight delays.

United's latest innovation – real-time radar maps – can help customers understand how inclement weather in one part of the country can impact a flight elsewhere. United is the first and only U.S. airline currently providing its customers these kinds of specific messages, and the airline is sending them with assistance from gen AI tools.

“With more people traveling this summer than ever, we wanted to give our customers an easier way to stay connected to real-time information about their flight and texting was the simplest solution,” said Jason Birnbaum, United's Chief Information Officer. “We know customers appreciate transparency and by combining innovative technology-enabled tools with people power, we can give more people, even more in-the-moment details about their flight.”

The release of these new innovations comes as United expects its busiest Fourth of July weekend on record with more than five million passengers flying between June 28 and July 8, up more than 7% compared to last year.

Here's how it works:

  • Specialized customer service teams sit in the network operations center alongside the flight operations teams and tap gen AI to review flight data and write customer messages that tells the complete story of a flight change. These messages are sent to customers through text or email in an effort to provide more helpful and relevant information about why flight plans are changing.
  • During weather events, messages will include links to local, live radar maps showing weather details across flight paths. This helps customers stay informed on weather-related delays, including showing how weather in one part of the country can impact a flight elsewhere. Plus, customers on all flights can access links to weather maps in the United app under flight status updates, and United displays radar maps in the gate area when a flight has been delayed due to weather.

Leading with Customer Transparency
For years, United has led the airline industry on implementing new technologies and policies across its operation to increase customer transparency, including:

  • Automatic rebooking assistance: Instead of waiting in line to talk to an agent or search for new options, United's self-service tools automatically present travelers personalized re-booking options, bag tracking information and meal and hotel vouchers when eligible if their flight is delayed or canceled.
  • Real-time flight updates: United is the first and only U.S. airline to give customers real-time access to their boarding pass, gate and seat number, and countdown clock to departure time directly on their phone screens, all without opening the United app.
  • Free family seating: United is the first and only airline to offer a dynamic seat map feature that makes it easier to seat children under 12-years-old next to an adult in their party for free – even travelers in Basic Economy.
  • No change fees: In August 2020, United got rid of change fees, offering more flexibility for travel plans, and started complimentary standby travel, becoming the only U.S. airline that lets all customers in all classes of service fly same-day standby for free.

For more information, visit united.com.


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