United Airlines introduces "agent on demand" at hub airports


Passengers traveling through United Airlines’ hubs will soon have access to virtual, on-demand customer service via their mobile device called “Agent on Demand”.

United Airlines “Agent On Demand” Hopes To Streamline Customer Service At Hub Airports

Beginning later this month, passengers can use a phone or tablet to to reach an agent at each of United’s eight hub airports to assist with flight-related needs. Rather than connecting to call center, these agents will be local to the hub airport.

How It Works

In order to connect with an agent, passengers can scan a QR code displayed on signage throughout United’s hub airports. In Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and Denver (DEN) passengers can alternatively access the platform through self-service kiosks at select gate areas.

Passengers will be connected to an agent by phone, chat or video, based on their preference. Passengers can then ask questions that would typically directed to a gate agent, including questions on:

  • seat assignments
  • upgrades
  • standby list
  • flight status
  • rebooking

This avoids potential queues at the gate or in customer service lines.

Language Functionality

Translation functionality is integrated in the chat function allowing passengers to communicate with agents in more than 100 languages. Customers can type in their preferred language and the messages will be automatically transcribed in English for the agents and in the selected language for the customer.

Linda Jojo, United’s Executive Vice President for Technology and Chief Digital Officer, noted:

“This tool makes it easy to quickly receive personalized support directly from a live agent at the airport while maintaining social distancing. Agent on Demand allows customers to bypass waiting in line at the gate and seamlessly connect with customer service agents from their mobile device, ensuring they continue to receive the highest levels of service while also prioritizing their health and safety.”


This is the sort of thing you hope you never have to use, but is nice to have if you need it.

In theory, this can revolutionize customer service. In practice, we will have to wait and see 1.) how long wait times will be and 2.) whether these agents are empowered to fully assist once a flight is under gate control.

But this is a good progress. I like any innovation that lessens the need to wait in lines, a mark of inefficiency.

images: United

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