Back in late April when I was writing a piece for Tnooz called Five untapped opportunities for mobile and travel I was coming across some news that didn’t really fit into that article – but I put it into a placeholder post here, and now, quite a few months later, have only just realized that I never actually posted it on the site.

One item was news from United Airlines who had announced some enhancements in this area:

In addition to using the more environmentally friendly paperless boarding pass option, customers may also access http://mobile.united.com to check flight status, flight availability, itineraries and Mileage Plus accounts.

Customers can also sign up for notification of any changes to flight status via email, phone or text message.

With the My Itineraries function, customers can view their itineraries and, in the event of missed connections, see the flights on which they have been automatically rebooked, rather than waiting in line at the airport for agent assistance.

While not currently enabled, United eventually plans to let consumers search for flights and buy tickets via its mobile Web site.

The most interesting part for me is around what I’m hearing people refer to as service recovery, and is captured in the part above about seeing which flights you have been automatically rebooked on in the event of a missed connection. I still think this information is most importantly pushed to a customer via email or SMS, but where it would be extremely innovative is if the aircraft has in flight wifi (or even more impressive, pushed to the seat back entertainment screen) and the passenger knew before touching the ground that the missed connection was already taken care of and that some type of compensation like a meal or a lounge pass was being offered as a sweetener.

Another example of service recovery I saw recently (recently meaning a good few months ago in this case),

Airlines have developed notification solutions for last-minute switches. Airlines once used their agents to notify passengers of problems, but that was time- and labor-intensive, said Robin Rees, the director of public relations and customer programs for Varolii, which creates systems used by such airlines as Alaska and United. “Automated communications technology can proactively reach much larger numbers of passengers much more quickly,” Rees said. “If an airline contact center has 30 agents, and each agent can make 10 calls an hour, that’s not very much. Varolii can do 20,000 to 50,000 in an hour.”

Maybe this post should have been titled “never throw anything away, just save it for a slow news day.”

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