AVIATION TECHNOLOGY

AI-Powered Ingredients to Enhance Airline Customer Experience in 2022

Anusree Bhattacharya | December 3, 2021 | 9 views

AI Blog AviationReport
Experience is Everything—human or mechanical. But Get it Right.

"AI's potential doesn't solely lie in its ability to improve business efficiency. Rather it lies in its ability to bridge the gap between businesses and customers. AI-powered communications enable for surged personalized and strengthening of information, stimulating customer trust and customer experiences."

- Kevin Gosschalk, CEO, Arkose Labs, in a conversation with Media 7.

Whether you make payments with a single tap in apps, ask Alexa to instruct in your smartphones, select Google assistance to find flights, or connect to airline companies, digital transformation is omnipresent. So, the appreciation comes naturally for how today's digital atmosphere transforms and affects our lives in every way.

Yes, you heard that right!

Using Google assistance to find flights is not the new way the industry uses AI. Instead, it has enhanced its way of AI usage into its process and operations. Like other businesses, aviation businesses are catching up well in using data and technology. With the help of these, they now create more compelling and prompter customer experiences.

The developments and revenues in the global aviation industry are skyrocketing. The industry expects almost 8.2 billion passengers to fly around the world by 2037. The rising numbers are because of digital transformation. The most interesting thing is aviation now has to manage high expectations of digital-savvy customers. It will be even more interesting now!

Before the blog breaks into discussing the futuristic airline customer experience, let's look at the flashback of the past customer experience scenarios (challenges) that prevailed in the airline industry.


Past Customer Experience Scenario in Airline

The aviation industry in 2018 recorded 4.4 billion passengers flying around the world. Furthermore, according to the IATA reports, the count is anticipated to reach 8.2 billion by 2037. But the industry is increasingly lacking behind in customer experience.

Complex booking procedures and missing out on the best flight offers because of complex app/website navigation and other potential customer services are issues raised in air travel today. Apart from this, customers also raise concerns over inflight infotainment systems. The systems merely do their job. Therefore, as many airport terminals are still empty, customer service representatives are working harder to overcome such issues.

As the industry has stepped into the fourth industrial revolution, AI rewards the best experiences for travels and other airline customer services. Now, airline marketers can find diverse AI-based digital solutions to sail through the cloud. And the findings are quite remarkable.

Let's come to the part where you will know how AI is helping the aviation industry scale its customer services.


How Can AI Enrich Airline and Scale Customer Services?

Airlines that leverage AI customer experience have had a significant advantage during the pandemic time. Their insights have been put into enriching the entire aviation business. Let's understand the 'how.'


Get Multiple Output in Seconds

When the demand for air fly rise, offering immediate services for customer handling teams becomes stressful. However, with AI, instances like this get a perfect solution.

AI can handle an infinite number of customers' demands at once. By leveraging AI-based digital solutions, you can scale up fulfilling airline operations in seconds. As a result, teams in your firm can easily diminish the increased demand for services and serve remarkable customer experience.

The benefit of AI can also be seen crosswise support channels. For instance, WestJet's ticket volume surged by 71% on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp during the beginning weeks of COVID-19 disruption in North America. However, the airline kept its response time low as its virtual agent Juliet ultimately resolved 87% of tickets.


Identity New and Trending Issues

Aviation is an industry of challenges. Issues and obstacles keep knocking on the door of airline companies. In such cases, AI informs if there are any trending issues over channels. For example, during the COVID-19 outbreak, new onboard safety issues and questions towards social distancing surfaced for the first time. However, airlines have never come through about social distancing. So, by leveraging AI, they created a responsive plan for customers. They communicated the same through AI-enabled solutions on websites and applications.

In response to the coronavirus, Gartner suggests that companies should use chatbots in digital channels to focus on the most ordinarily asked questions to give solutions for customers.


Feedback Analysis

Air travel can be stressful at times, even for frequent and experienced travelers. For example, it could be passport-related or booking tickets, baggage checks, ticket prints, arrivals, departures, seat assistance, etc.

So, by analysis of data, artificial intelligence in customer experience learns about these pain points of airports and flight experiences. In this way, customer experience can be improved and enhanced simultaneously.

Then comes feedback. Using AI for feedback analysis, airlines can research the market. It can make informed decisions related to processes and operations. 

"AI systems can quickly allow airlines to discover opportunities to intervene in the customer journey and turn a miserable experience into a delightful one. It also allows companies to respond faster in a synchronized and regulated way that is uniform with the business's values. Ultimately, we want to understand how an airline can fascinate a customer as well as where there is an abrasion in the customer journey and figure out how to fix it,"

- CEO of PureStrategy Inc. Briana Brownell

Briana highlights the growing relevance of natural language used in AI. Understanding technology in the processing and analysis of customer experience data thus allows businesses to explore the customer journey in their own words.

For example, ANIE, an AI assistance, can help customers find, book, and pay for flights.


Effective Communication

The speed of responsive communication to customer queries is highly considered to resolve issues. For example, airport issues like flight delays or baggage loss crop up quite often throwing. As a result, travelers usually get into a state of nervousness. However, when they do not get a response or explanation to their problems, they start considering other airlines for their future trips.

In these cases, AI software deployment can speed up and simplify services, automatically enhancing airline customer experience. In addition, effective customer emails with exact information can also solve significant issues and streamline employees' workflow using natural text.

Another way to automate and improve airline customer experience is chatbot development. Today, many airlines enhance their customer support with AI-powered chatbots on their websites and mobile applications.

The Business Insider’s research report says that by 2022, over 80% of airline businesses are likely to have chatbot automation implemented in operations.

These chatbots help passengers with bookings, managing flight schedules, and updating customers about general flight information. In addition, they can post queries and other types of assistance to get quick responses.

Self-Services at Airports

Easy self-check-ins, ticket booths, and overall communication (from booking to destination arrival) add to the comprehensive AI-based digital solutions.

The pandemic forced the aviation industry to witness the extraordinary rise of numerous contactless technologies. So, airports are now more focused on providing self-services for customers. These include contactless payments, luggage checks, robotic assistance for queries, and more like these.

Self-service systems in airports are critical automated systems. AI technology is installed to automate passenger journeys without any hurdles.

Today, airline companies and airports implement an end-to-end solution using artificial intelligence in customer experience to facilitate smooth passenger air travel and operations. In case of point, Delta Airlines, one of the world's largest global airlines, uses intelligent systems such as Fly to Gate by Thales. The system works with biometrics technology. The employees use it for the document scanning process to recognize and verify passengers at security checks.

Such technology reduces passenger check-in time and improves customer experience.


Future of AI Customer Experience in Airline Industry

There are many shreds of evidence that customers increasingly want a personal touch with their communications. They adore personalized services. Even airline companies are seeking profound connections with their customers. And this is the right time to act by offering personalized customer experiences.

Today, AI makes it possible for the entire airline industry to enhance customer experience with automation, provide self-service solutions, ensure safe air travel, and more. Technology is a powerful tool for airlines to make informed decisions that they couldn't take in the past few years. Now airlines can make decisions faster on essential decisions such as on pricing of tickets by analyzing data, enabling secure authentication of customers than before.

Ultimately, the success of artificial intelligence in customer experience is driven by having a deep understanding of different customer segments. By harnessing the power of conversational AI, airline businesses can improve their ROI, nurture long-term customer relationships, metrics being the core elements.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can airline companies improve their customer experience?

To improve customer experience, airline companies can follow these ways:
  • Focus on knowing the target audience
  • Meet unique and specific customer needs
  • Keep customers engaged on social media platforms
  • Make smart customer-targeted decisions
  • Be responsive towards customers


How does AI play its role in aviation concerning customer experiences these days?

AI plays a crucial role in helping customers in aviation to find the correct information more efficiently. It actively helps analyze customers' data and recommend services based on their browsing preferences about flights.


How does AI improve customer experience?

AI enables the power to strengthen customer engagement, encourage activities, and improve customer retention. Although not a replacement for human beings, it does help increase the efficiency of serving — like answering frequently asked questions, providing the correct information, and being available 24*7.

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US Aviation Group

US Aviation is a fully integrated and internationally recognized aviation organization. US Aviation consists of our Fixed-based Operator, Maintenance and Avionics, and Academy divisions. We are also associated with Longhorn Helicopters.

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Dedrone Partners with South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to Secure Popular Cooper River Bridge Run

Dedrone | June 24, 2022

Dedrone, the market leader in smart airspace security, announced it partnered with Threat Management Group to provide airspace security for South Carolina Law Enforcement Division during the popular Cooper River Bridge Run. Due to the pandemic, the annual race was held twice within a six-month period, in September 2021 and again in April 2022. SLED utilized Dedrone technology to secure the airspace for runners and spectators during both events. Using funding from the 2020 Port Security Grant Program SLED leveraged Dedrone’s Smart Airspace Security solution, deploying mobile DedroneSensors on marine vessels and installing Dedrone Sensors around the bridge in a static configuration to ensure wide-area security. During the 2021/2022 events, three drones were intercepted and SLED was able to quickly de-escalate the threat. Dedrone’s technology helped ensure the safest and most secure events in the history of the 10K race, the third largest of its kind in the United States. “We needed a scalable drone detection solution capable of detecting a wide variety of drones and flexible enough to be deployed in our highly complex race environment, which includes both the land and marine components,” said Trey Elrod at SLED. “After an extensive analysis of available solutions, Dedrone was the clear market leader. The ease of deployment, robust drone detection library and simplicity of the user interface made it much easier for law enforcement to successfully protect our annual Bridge Run.” Drone detection is complex. Drones come in various shapes, sizes and control mechanisms, with fixed wings or a varying number of rotors. Radio frequencies also vary - many drones are controlled using common radio protocols, but others are controlled via Wi-Fi. Dedrone shines a light on the “blind spot” of suspicious drones, ensuring airspace is safe from unwanted aircraft and providing tools to help mitigate threats. “We were honored to work with TMG and SLED to help secure the iconic Cooper River Bridge Run, especially as these were the first events following the pandemic and the community was excited to be together again. Airspace security is now a critical part of ensuring the safety of participants in any live event, and Dedrone makes it easy for law enforcement to quickly and easily manage unauthorized drones.” Aaditya Devarakonda, CEO of Dedrone Races, stadiums and live events are especially vulnerable to drone threats, both from nefarious actors and individuals seeking to get their own unique footage. Spectators and participants alike are vulnerable to physical threats, while event organizers also worry about copyright infringement issues. Dedrone and TMG have successfully partnered to secure additional events, including NASCAR. “TMG provides a wide range of counter technologies for Unmanned Aircraft Systems including risk management, training, TTP development and drone detection solutions,” said Brandon Cox, CEO, TMG. “Dedrone is the company we trust most to provide our clients with a complete end-to-end, drone-agnostic detection solution.” Dedrone works across 35 countries to deliver best-in-class detection, identification, tracking, and mitigation of drones. The company’s technology is used by four of the G-7 nations, nine U.S. federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, and more than 70 critical infrastructure sites, 20 airports and 50 correctional facilities worldwide. About Dedrone Dedrone is the market leader in smart airspace security. Dedrone’s counter-drone system is trusted by hundreds of commercial, government, and military customers globally to protect against unauthorized drones. With flexibility to host on premise or in the cloud via Dedrone’s Airspace Security-as-a-Service (ASaaS), Dedrone customers can detect, identify, locate, analyze and mitigate unauthorized drone threats. Established in 2014, Dedrone is headquartered in San Francisco, with operations in the Washington, D.C.-area, Columbus, Ohio, London, and Germany.

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AVIATION TECHNOLOGY

Blade Announces Partnership to Provide Helicopter Airport Transfers and Preferred Benefits to JetBlue’s TrueBlue Loyalty Program Members

JetBlue | June 24, 2022

Blade Air Mobility, Inc. a technology-powered global air mobility platform announced that it has entered into an agreement with JetBlue New York’s Hometown Airline® to integrate Blade’s Airport service into JetBlue’s TrueBlue loyalty program through 2023. In connection with the partnership, Blade announced that it will be adding an additional route of continuous daily service between BLADE Lounge East, located at East 34th Street in Manhattan, and John F. Kennedy International Airport (“JFK”) starting June 27, 2022, as well as introducing additional flights harmonized with JetBlue’s growing international schedule operating out of JFK. “Given its New York City roots JetBlue is an ideal partner as we have ramped up our Blade Airport service to six days a week and up to thirteen hours per day in New York City,” said Melissa Tomkiel, Blade’s President. “We know the JetBlue journey starts long before our customers step aboard one of our flights, which is why we are making more of the entire travel experience even easier and even more rewarding. This partnership with Blade will help us further evolve and enhance our TrueBlue program so our most loyal customers can enjoy more perks more often.” Chris Buckner, vice president of loyalty & partnerships, JetBlue “We look forward to enabling loyal JetBlue fliers to substitute up to two hours of ground congestion for a five-minute flight between Manhattan and area airports,” added Jeffrey Brenner, Director, Strategic Marketing and Brand Partnerships at Blade. About Blade Blade is a technology-powered, global air mobility platform committed to reducing travel friction by providing cost-effective air transportation alternatives to some of the most congested ground routes in the U.S. and abroad. Today, the Company predominantly uses helicopters and amphibious aircraft for its passenger routes and is also one of the largest air medical transporters of human organs for transplant in the world. Its asset-light model, coupled with its exclusive passenger terminal infrastructure, is designed to facilitate a seamless transition to Electric Vertical Aircraft enabling lower cost air mobility to the public that is both quiet and emission-free. About JetBlue JetBlue is New York's Hometown Airline®, and a leading carrier in Boston, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Los Angeles, Orlando and San Juan. JetBlue carries customers to more than 110 cities throughout the United States, Latin America, Caribbean, Canada and United Kingdom.

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AIR TRANSPORT,AVIATION TECHNOLOGY

easyJet to Unlock Environmental, Operational Benefits as First Airline Partner for Iris Programme From Inmarsat, ESA

easyJet | June 22, 2022

easyJet has been announced as the first airline partner of the ground-breaking Iris programme by Inmarsat and the European Space Agency, which utilises the latest generation of satellite technology to modernise air traffic management (ATM). One of Europe's leading airlines will play a central role in the Iris programme, which enables real-time collaboration between pilots, air traffic controllers and airline operation centres using secure, high-bandwidth data links. This minimises delays, saves fuel and reduces environmental impact for airlines, while also improving airspace usage to ease congestion and accommodate future growth. Powered by Inmarsat’s award-winning SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) connectivity platform, Iris enables new ATM functionalities such as trajectory-based operations that pinpoint aircraft in four dimensions (latitude, longitude, altitude and time), which will allow the airline to avoid holding patterns, calculate the shortest available routes and optimum altitudes, and benefit from continuous climb and descent pathways. The additional datalink capacity provided by SB-S will power a host of powerful onboard digital applications, such as AI flight profile optimisers and real-time weather applications. With the support of leading Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs), easyJet will evaluate Iris’ transformative capabilities on up to 11 Airbus A320neos, set to begin flying from November 2022. This partnership is the culmination of years of work and over €50 million investment by ESA, Inmarsat and more than 30 partners to develop the Iris programme. It also supports easyJet’s commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 as part of the UN-backed ‘Race to Zero’ campaign, with an interim target of a 35% carbon emissions intensity improvement by 2035. “The Iris programme from Inmarsat and ESA is a game-changer and we are delighted to have easyJet as our first airline partner. This is not only because of its pioneering commitment to innovation and reducing aviation’s environmental impact, but also because this kick-starts an exciting new era that will help make aviation greener and reduce congestion delays for passengers.” Philippe Carette, President of Inmarsat Aviation Hugh McConnellogue, easyJet’s Director of Airport Operations and Navigation, said, “Iris is paving the way for more efficient air traffic management, which is a crucial step forward for the aviation industry. The programme brings multiple benefits, from helping us to achieve our environmental goals by further reducing our carbon emissions, to providing a better experience for our passengers. We’re excited to be leading in this space, setting the standard for the industry and hope to see more airlines follow suit.” Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, said: “This innovation has been an enormous undertaking by ESA, Inmarsat and more than 30 other companies within the space and aviation industry, so to see it finally ‘take to the skies’ in a live operational environment is very exciting. European airspace is crying out for a solution to its capacity issues, and advanced satellite technology is the only way to set the industry up for a better – and greener – future.” The easyJet Airbus A320neo aircraft have been linefitted with a Light Cockpit Satcom (LCS) solution powered by terminal manufacturer Cobham, which is integrated fully with the Flight Operations & Maintenance Exchanger (FOMAX) developed by Collins and Airbus. Iris will enter commercial and operational service fully in Europe next year, supporting the Single European Sky’s ATM Research masterplan. It will be the first communication service to benefit from a Pan-European certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency. Earlier this month, Inmarsat and ESA signed a new contract to globalise the programme. Iris Global will focus on the technologies and certification required to share the fuel, CO2 and congestion-saving benefits of Iris with regions beyond Europe. To accelerate further ATM modernisation, it will also adopt System Wide Information Management (SWIM) applications to facilitate greater sharing of information such as airport operational status, weather information, flight data and airspace restrictions status. Research on future capabilities for the integration of uncrewed aviation into European airspace will also be supported. ABOUT INMARSAT Inmarsat delivers world leading, innovative, advanced and exceptionally reliable global, mobile communications across the world – in the air, at sea and on land - that are enabling a new generation of commercial, government and mission-critical services. Inmarsat is powering the digitalisation of the maritime industry, making operations more efficient and safer than ever before. It is driving a new era of inflight passenger services for aviation, while ensuring that aircraft can fly with maximum efficiency and safety. Furthermore, Inmarsat is enabling the rapid expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT) and enabling the next wave of world-changing technologies that will underpin the connected society and help build a sustainable future. And now Inmarsat is developing the first-of-its-kind, multi-dimensional communications network of the future, ORCHESTRA. In November 2021, Inmarsat and Viasat announced the planned combination of the two companies, to create a new leader in global communications. The deal is scheduled to close in the second half of 2022. ABOUT EASYJET easyJet is Europe’s leading airline offering a unique and winning combination of the best route network connecting Europe's primary airports, with great value fares and friendly service. easyJet flies on more of Europe’s most popular routes than any other airline and carried more than 96 million passengers in 2019 – more than 16 million travelling for business. The airline has over 300 aircraft on nearly 1000 routes to more than 150 airports across 35 countries. Over 300 million Europeans live within one hour's drive of an easyJet airport. easyJet aims to be a good corporate citizen, employing people on local contracts in eight countries across Europe in full compliance with national laws and recognising their trade unions. The airline supports several local charities and has a corporate partnership with UNICEF which has raised over £14m for the most vulnerable children since it was established in 2012. The airline takes sustainability seriously and is committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions flying by 2050. Together with its partners, including Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions and Wright Electric, easyJet is working to accelerate the development of zero-emission aircraft technology. In the meantime, the airline is offsetting the carbon emissions from the fuel used for all its flights, at no additional cost to its customers, and only supports projects that are certified by Gold Standard or the Verified Carbon Standard, internationally recognised certification schemes. In addition, easyJet continues to renew its fleet, operate efficiently, and aims to fill most of its seats. Innovation is in easyJet’s DNA – since launching over 25 years ago, easyJet changed the way people fly to the present day where the airline leads the industry in digital, web, engineering and operational innovations to make travel more easy and affordable for its passengers. The airline was named as Britain’s Most Admired Company of 2020 in the transport sector, retaining the leading position for a second year running. Britain's Most Admired Companies study is the longest-running annual survey of corporate reputation in the UK. ABOUT ESA The European Space Agency is Europe’s gateway to space. ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

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