Have a question about your upcoming United Airlines flight and don’t feel like waiting on hold or searching the web? You can now try asking directly via text message with the new United Automated Assistant tool.
United Automated Assistant – A New Way To Communicate With United Airlines
In its first iteration, United’s new assistance tool will focus on providing info on cleaning and safety procedures.
Just text “Clean” to FLYUA (35982) and you will be introduced to your virtual agent. You can ask a number of questions such as:
- How is United keeping airports cleaner and safer?
- Are United Club locations still open?
- How can I prepare for an upcoming trip?
- What is the quality of the air onboard a plane?
- How are you cleaning and disinfecting your planes?
- Are there any changes to service during flight?
An automated answer will be generated to each question. If you have very specific questions, you will still need to reach out to United on social media or by picking up the phone.
Linda Jojo, United’s Executive Vice President for Technology and Chief Digital Officer, said:
“The travel experience has changed a lot from just a few months ago – we’ve overhauled our safety and cleaning procedures and this new text functionality makes it easier for our customers to stay informed. Whether you want to know the latest about our social distancing and face covering policies or see how the boarding and deplaning process has changed, our Automated Assistant is designed to meet the customer where they are and get them answers in a simple, fast and easy way.”
You can try out the new chatbox now…standard messaging rates apply.
I Put United Automated Assistant To The Test
I decided to have a bit of fun with the new United Automated Assistant. Just how responsive would it be?
Rather than text “clean” I just said hello. Next, I asked whether the United Club at LAX would be open today. While I would have preferred to receive hours of operation specifically for LAX, the answers I received were helpful:
Next, I decided to get cheeky and asked if smoking was permitted in the lounge. The lounge keyword triggered the same response as my last question. Then I asked about meal service onboard and received a helpful answer:
Finally, I knew it was outside the scope of this initial release, but I asked how early I should arrive at the airport and what check-in cutoff is at LAX. The United Automated Assistant was unable to help. I asked one more question on masks and the system was ready with an answer. The old mask guidelines were displayed including a medical exception (there is no longer a medical exception). United let me know that the medical exemption language has now been updated:
We’ve updated this response within the system to be consistent with our policies. When asking about our mask policies, the information on exemptions will now read, “If a passenger believes that there are extraordinary circumstances that warrant an exception, they should contact United or speak to a representative at the airport. Children younger than 2 are exempt.”
The system (annoyingly) kept prompted me to answer A or B after every answer, so I answered B. A survey arrived, which I answered.
At the end of the survey I was asked if I wanted to add any additional feedback, but this post will serve as my feedback.
The United Automated Assistant is part of United’s CleanPlus program, a safety initiative launched in May that, with input from Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic, works to make the flying experience as healthy and risk-free as possible. I think the new tool has rough edges, but shows promise.
Let me know how your experience with it goes!