How do you keep passengers feeling at home when they’re traveling with a partner airline? Enabling them to “live” in their preferred app while traveling on another airline is a big step in that can ease the travel experience. And, in the near future, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines will take a significant step forward on that front. Alaska Airlines plans to allow flight check-in on mixed carrier bookings on either app, regardless of which operates the first segment, in the not-too-distant-future.
You’re going to be able to check in on the Alaska app or the American app, no matter which is operating the first leg [of a joint carrier PNR].– Charu Jain, SVP Merchandising & Innovation for Alaska Airlines
Speaking at the Future Travel Experience Ancillary & Retailing conference in Dublin this week, Charu Jain, SVP Merchandising & Innovation for Alaska Airlines noted this as the next step in the evolution of services in the carrier’s digital travel experience, as it tries to make the process more consistent for travelers, regardless of which partner airline they are traveling on. “It is just making it easier for passengers,” Jain explains, “They don’t have to go to different places, they don’t have to download and learn a new app just to travel with a partner.”
Read more: It’s the end of the kiosk as we know it, and Alaska Airlines feels fine
The airlines will leverage the Carrier Connect common data platform of oneWorld to enable this functionality. Ultimately this should enable broader adoption of the functionality, though Chain acknowledges that expansion still depends on bilateral agreements with each partner. That said, she committed to that integration with additional partners in the future.
Read more: Reciprocal upgrades coming to American, Alaska Airlines
And, while the move means some passengers will never download the Alaska Airlines app, remaining in the American (or eventually other partner) interface, Jain is confident the value to travelers familiar with the Alaska app makes this a win for the company’s more loyal and frequent customers.
The idea of delivering partner benefits in the preferred app of the customer is not new, but the devil is always in the details. In this case, Jain also notes that the initial implementation is not the full-featured end state.
Travelers will be able to check in and receive a boarding pass, but some additional ancillary products will not be available. This includes managing seat assignments.
Jain expects that feature, among many others, to evolve as the airlines improve their integrations. “Right now it is just about getting a boarding pass. We’re working on making seats available. And you can get the bag tag, no matter which is the first carrier.”
Jain also made clear that developing this solution is a reciprocal arrangement with the other carriers. Presumably American will (eventually??) similarly enable such a feature.
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