The uncertainties surrounding travel which have dogged our ability to visit friends and family around the world may be easing but along with booking a flight today comes a plethora of uncertainty and until the wheels of the plane are actually off the ground, travel by air to anywhere is not guaranteed. The hoops travelers are required to jump through, pre, during and post any kind of airline experience only serve up anxiety and stress. The fact that globally the world is attempting to halt the spread of a global pandemic is to be admired and the rules laid down should be observed and yet when these rules impact on you personally, only then does the inconvenience become apparent.
Airlines are doing their best to mitigate against unforeseen cancellations, changes, and alterations to any air travel and what is becoming increasingly important as air travel resumes pre pandemic levels is the information flow between air travelers and the new travel supply chain. In a world of flux, staying informed whilst travelling and having fast immediate access to the information we need to travel is important.
The entire flight experience has been enhanced through the mobility and information access afforded to us by mobile phones. When booking the flight, whether it be through an aggregator like Skyscanner or direct through British Airways, confirmation of our booking and the relevant information will almost always be shared through email and SMS ensuring that we are in possession of the details required to plan the rest of the trip. A simple link in an SMS sent by the airline will act as a gateway to much richer information regarding the trip.
Many destinations now require that passengers test for covid – 19 prior to boarding an aircraft. These tests vary from PCR tests which are required to be taken 72 hours prior to departure or in the case of a visit to the United States a Rapid Antigen lateral flow test which should be undertaken 24 hours prior to travel. Holidays, business trips and weekend breaks are dependent on the results of these tests and as such the expeditious result presentation is essential. In some cases, these test results need to be entered when checking in online or shared with staff at check in at the airport. Some airlines have bespoke apps that allow for flight compliance Covid -19 sharing. In all instances a text message from the testing facility is often the quickest way to share test results with travelers, and bulk SMS has been fundamentally important to the travel industry over the last 3 years.
Once all testing is completed and we have undertaken online check-in the airline will send us our boarding pass. More often than not this is sent via SMS with a link to the boarding pass that enables us to add the pass to our mobile wallet for convenience. The immediacy of this data and information sharing is hugely valuable at a time when planning air travel has become more complex than ever before and the expectation is such that we are required to carry copious amounts of paperwork and documentation to travel.
When we eventually do get on the plane, access to inflight entertainment and services has been greatly enhanced, and in the last decade SMS, email and social media messaging are all available for the duration of the flight. Keeping in touch with loved ones or the office is now a reality from 38000ft above the ground.Notification of gate changes, baggage claim areas, tourist and taxi information are all shared via SMS to passengers whilst the flight is in progress in order to facilitate a smoother progress through the airport and on to final destinations.
Customer Service is everything especially when managing a complex process and staying abreast of customer perception is of paramount importance to the airlines given today’s travel circumstances. Knowing and understanding what aspects of the airline – passenger interaction can be improved upon and what elements are working well is basic information integrated into future airline strategy. How better a way to garnish this information from passengers than through an online survey disseminated via SMS.