Insight

7 Ways Airlines Can Fly High With SMS

There is more to flying than seat selection and text messages can smooth out the bumps

December 02 2016

Business or pleasure it’s hard to imagine a world without air travel. Lots of us flew for the first time as kids and have been frequent fliers ever since. As fun as flying can be, there are some frustrations that we still deal with could be alleviated with a tech upgrade.

Not everything needs a smartphone app. Lots of simple travel annoyances can be solved with a simple 160 character—or less—SMS.

Why SMS? Not only is it fast and reliable, SMS messages don’t require internet access. Customers without data plans (or traveling abroad) still get texts, and get them more reliably than email or even a voice call.

check in reminder message

Check-in reminders

Online check-in is great. I love the feeling of security when I’ve selected my seat and printed my boarding passes. That is when I remember to do it in time. Now, if my airline sent me a quick text with a reminder to check-in with a link to the online portal, my day would be made.

Remember 95% of texts are read within five minutes. When I get a text, I read it, and if that text hits my device within that crucial "24 hours before your flight" window, then I can check-in to my flight and check off one more thing from my pre-trip to-do list.

Weather reports/what to pack

How often have you wondered what the weather is like where you’re flying. I usually think about it right as I start packing—often right after I’ve checked into my flight—and check the weather on my phone.

What if my airline could save me the trouble of looking up the weather? Airlines know when I’m arriving and when I’m coming back, so right after I finish checking in online, zap a message with the forecast for the time I’m away. This is what SMS is great for, sending information to customers right before they need it. Just as I’d be wondering, do I need to pack a sweater I get a text saying it’s going to be warm and sunny with a slight chance of rain. Perfect. Packing decisions made that much easier.

Flight and gate updates

Time to fly! Or is it? From weather to air traffic congestion anything can delay a flight, so instead of checking with the airline over and over again, simple messages solve the problem. A few hours before you should be getting to the airport getting a message that the flight is on time and will be leaving from gate whatever relieves another headache. If anything changes, another SMS does the trick.

connecting flight information

Connecting flight information

You’ve finished the first leg of your flight. You have just enough time to make your flight. But...where is it? How do I get there? As soon as you land on your first leg of your trip, you get a message with gate information and even some instructions how to get there. Maybe even an average walking time between parts of the terminal. Just a little extra information that helps you get to that next flight.

baggage claim information

Baggage carousel information

When you land what’s the first thing you want to know (besides where the bathroom is when you get off the plane)? Where to pick up your bags. In the mass of screens and flights, it’s hard to find the information. Airlines know where your bags are going to be, so as soon as you touch down and you can turn your phone on—ding!—you know where your bag will be and you can head straight there.

Information about the destination

From how much a taxi should cost to downtown, public transit options, to what might be fun to do in the city while you’re there, as you’re picking up your bag you could be planning what you’re going to do next. Airlines only have to do this once for each city for basic information or update once and in a while for things to do.

Simple bits of information make all the difference when you’re traveling.

checkin to home

Reminder to check in for home

Remembering to check in when you’re starting off your trip is easy, but when you’re on vacation or on a hectic business trip it isn’t always as easy to remember to check in to head home. Another simple reminder that it’s time to check in to head home gets you back into travel mode.

It’s a little more complicated, but the check-in process could be handled over 2-Way SMS as well. If you don’t have WiFi or access to a computer the basic check in questions can be handled with simple text responses. Even if you’re just confirming what’s on file, you know you’re checked in and you’re ready to head home.

Bonus: Rate your trip

SMS is great for customer surveys. Simple yes/no or rate from 1-10 questions can be tapped while you’re waiting to pick up your bag when you’ve gotten home (and you knew where to claim your bag since the airline texted you the information when you landed). The airline provided all the information in this post, there’s no reason why it wasn’t a good experience. Or at least, you were kept informed the entire time.

Great travel starts with great communication

These tips are about giving your customers the information they need to have a stress-free flight. Reminders to check-in, weather updates, flight updates, connections, baggage, and information about your destination are all things you want to know when you’re flying. Even seasoned flyers need this information. Everyone likes to know these little details. It relieves stress and helps people just enjoy the trip.

SMS can’t take all the frustrations out of flying, but at least it can provide you with information to make the trip smoother.

If you’d like to learn more about connecting your customer service systems to SMS...

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