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United Airlines leverages mobile to manage travel itineraries

United Airlines is rolling out a new application feature that is aimed at keeping up with travelers in real-time during their flights.

The company’s app now enables consumers to change their itineraries if they experience flight delays or cancellations. Additionally, the airline plans to make mobile boarding pass scanning available at all of its United States airports by the fall.

“Our overall digital strategy is that from the point of travel inspiration all the way to the time customers unpack their bags, we want United to be the first and best-priced place customers go,” said Mark Nasr, managing director of ecommerce at United, Chicago.

“Between tablets, mobile phones, and traditional computing, we seek to bring a variety of solutions for travelers at all points in that lifecycle,” he said.

Easy travel
United’s app allows consumers to deal with flight delays or cancellations independently and on their mobile device.

If consumers experience a flight delay or cancellation, they will have the option of keeping their current itinerary or changing to a new itinerary, if one is available. The app will suggest already confirmed flights, but the customer can also search for alternate routes, airports and dates.

All-venue menu

According to United, this feature was previously only available by visiting a kiosk or by seeing an agent directly.

The updated app is available for the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry 10, and Windows Phone 8.

United’s on board

Mobile boarding passes
Additionally, United plans to accept mobile boarding passes at all of its U.S. airports by this coming fall.

In 2007, United was the first airline to introduce mobile boarding passes, and it is now the first airline to make mobile boarding pass scanning available at all of its domestic locations.

United flies out of more than 220 airports in the U.S.

Mobile boarding passes are also available at 40 airports internationally.

The mobile boarding passes let consumers avoid check-in lines at airports and take out the extra step of printing a ticket.

Helping the customer
Both United’s updated app and its promise to accept mobile boarding passes at all U.S. airports signify the company’s dedication to its customers.

The airline is showing again that is willing to invest in mobile technology to enhance the travel experience for its customers.

For example, United launched a Windows 8 app earlier this year that lets users book a flight across desktops and mobile devices (See story).

“The benefits of going mobile are huge, especially for an airline,” Mr. Nasr said.

“When customers are on the go they are by definition mobile because they’re travelling and being able to provide the full capabilities of our system in the palm of their hands gives our customers the choice of how they want to receive services,” he said.

“It also allows us to push information to our travelers in real time. It’s not just for the traveler. It can even be for the person picking up the traveler.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York