Cool United technology helps with tight connections

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June 11, 2019
United connection tool
United aircraft at Chicago O'Hare. Photo: United.

Getting from one United Airlines flight to the next should be easier this summer thanks to a new tool that scans flights for customers who are making tight connections.

ConnectionSaver uses new technology that automatically identifies departing flights that can be held for passengers on a tight connection but also ensures the aircraft gets to its destination on time.

It sends personalized text messages to connecting customers who opt to receive notifications with clear directions to the gate for their connecting flight and an indication of how long it will take to get there.

United says the technology determines if a connecting flight can be held without inconveniencing other customers by taking into account factors such as transfer time  between gates and what impact holding a flight will have on other passengers.

The result, according to United chief customer officer Toby Enqvist, is that passengers with tight connections are making their flights.

READ: United eco-flight showcases airline responses to climate change.

“With summer travel picking up, as many as 150,000 customers will make connections on United flights every day and our goal is to provide our employees and these customers with the most up-to-date information to make connecting as stress-free as possible,” Enqvist said.

The airline launched the tool on all flights to its Denver hub in February and then expanded it to Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

Over the past four months, it says, the tool allowed more than 14,400 customers who would have otherwise missed their connections to make their flights.

Flights were held for an average of six minutes to enable them to do so.

The plan is to expand ConnectionSaver to the airline’s other hubs by this fall and then to all other airports into which United operates.

“ConnectionSaver only works if it allows us to care for as many customers as possible – without inconveniencing others – and that’s exactly what this technology has shown it can do,’’ Enqvist said.

The US carrier in January also released updates to its app that were designed to make flying less stressful.

The refresh included continuous updates for each step of a journey, a “My Trips” tab and an inbox with important push notifications and home screen updates starting 48 hours before a flight.