United Airlines can now send passengers live weather radar maps via text   

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United Airlines has unveiled a new service in the form of text messages (SMS) that convey local, live radar maps during weather delays to passengers.  

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 any given United flight. Such texts include information such as gate changes and boarding times to more specific updates regarding aircraft changes, crew rescheduling, and weather events.  

However, with United’s latest innovation, the real-time weather radar maps are aimed at helping customers better understand how inclement weather in one part of the country can impact a flight elsewhere.  

With the rollout of this new service, United has become the first and only US airline currently providing its customers with these customized, personalized messages. According to the carrier, the messages are formulated and sent with assistance from generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools. 

United Airlines

Regarding functionality, specialized customer service teams sit in the United network operations center alongside the carrier’s flight operations teams. The agents in the customer support team use AI to review flight data and then compile bespoke messages to customers that convey the complete story of any flight changes, delays, or cancellations.  

The complete messages are then sent to customers through either text or email to provide more helpful and relevant information about why their flight plans are changing in real-time. 

During weather events, messages will include links to local, live radar maps showing weather details across flight paths. This, says the carrier, will help customers stay informed on weather-related delays, including showing how the 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. 

The release of this new innovation comes as United expects its busiest Fourth of July holiday weekend on record in 2024 with more than five million passengers flying between June 28 and July 8, 2024, a figure that is an increase of over 7% compared to 2023.  

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“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.” 

United claims to have been leading the US airline industry in implementing new technologies and policies across its operation for several years to increase customer transparency. Such measures the airliner has taken include automatic rebooking assistance when flights are canceled, real-time flight updates, free family seating offering 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, and no change fees allowing for more flexibility in travel plans.  

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