Virgin launches voice check-in through Amazon Alexa

October 05, 2018
virgin alexa amazon
Image: Virgin

Virgin Australia has joined the trend to adopt voice check-in by becoming the first airline outside North America to provide the service through Amazon’s Alexa.

The carrier joined Alexa in February with a promise to expand the features and says the most common question since then has been about flight status.

It also recently announced it was boosting its app with airport maps and the ability to share flight information with family and friends as it looks to develop software that can anticipate travelers’ needs.

READ maps and machine learning as Virgin app muscles up. 

From next week, Virgin passengers who have linked their Velocity membership to Alexa can say, “Alexa, ask Virgin Australia to check me in” and passengers will be sent their boarding passes to a nominated mobile number.

“Since Amazon Echo and Alexa-enabled devices launched in Australia, Virgin Australia has been exploring new ways to make it easier for our customers to travel with us through emerging technology,’’ Virgin Australia chief information officer Cameron Stone said.

“Allowing our passengers to check-in for their flight with Amazon Alexa is a very exciting addition to our existing skill in the Alexa Skills Store.

“Using technology to streamline the customer journey is a huge priority for us and we look forward to announcing some new initiatives in this space in the near future.”

Virgin Australia  passengers can now use Alexa to  obtain their flight departure time, Velocity number, flight number and booking reference.

They do this through simple voice requests such as “Alexa, ask Virgin Australia what time my flight departs.”.

Amazon only recently began operating in Australia and is still finding its feet. The company has annoyed some customers by restricting access by Australians to its vast US parent while not yet providing the same service.

United Airlines began offering the Alexa service last year and a number of carriers, including soon-to-be Virgin rival Air New Zealand, have teamed with tech giant Google to use its voice activated system.

Airlines and airports are moving to adopt technology in an attempt  to make traveling , particularly the check-in process,  easier for customers.

As well as voice recognition, they are using online chatbots, wider-ranging apps and automated check-in technologies.

Trials are also underway with facial recognition technology that would reduce or eliminate the need for separate identification and a boarding pass.

Surveys show the majority of travelers are keen to use technology to gain greater control over their journey despite some qualms about privacy.