From new airport maps on its mobile app to new entertainment offerings, United Airlines is rolling out a series of tech enhancements.
New Mobile App Features
The airline has updated its mobile app to include:
- New, interactive indoor maps for its Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington hubs, with more airports to be added soon
- “Indoor location” functionality, currently in beta testing for customers traveling through Newark Liberty International Airport, using beacons to help customers navigate the airline’s Terminal C complex
- New self-booking functions that offer more options for faster re-booking in the event of a flight delay or cancellation
The updates are available for iOS devices and are coming soon for Android devices.
The new, interactive maps enable customers to search quickly for nearby airport vendors and services such as restaurants, ATM locations or family restrooms, and enable travelers to easily navigate to gates throughout the terminal. Several airport maps also include navigation to rental car facilities and on-site airport hotels.
If customers have a boarding pass stored in the app, the map will automatically default to start navigation at that specific gate location. Alternatively, the user can place a pin at his or her current location to indicate where he or she is in the airport. The app will guide customers to their desired destinations within the terminal, estimating walk times to make flight connections that much easier.
“Travelers are accustomed to using maps and navigation apps throughout their daily lives – and that shouldn’t end when they walk into the airport,” said Scott Wilson, United’s vice president of eCommerce and Merchandising. “These new features of our app will make travel easier and more personal for our customers.”
United tapped LocusLabs – a San Francisco-based tech start-up – to create and scale-out the custom indoor experience for the app.
United is also testing additional map functionality for customers using the app at the airline’s New York/Newark hub. Through the use of Bluetooth low-energy beacons, the Newark Liberty airport map will use “indoor location” technology to pinpoint a user’s location within the airport to navigate toward various locations – eliminating the need for the user to pin his or her location. United intends to expand the feature to other airports based on customer feedback.
Finally, United is expanding the self-service functions available to customers in the event of a flight delay, cancellation or missed connection. Through a few clicks in the app, customers may choose from a variety of flight options including alternate airports or, if a confirmed seat isn’t available on their preferred flights, add themselves to a standby list for an earlier flight.
New In-Flight Entertainment Options
At the same time, United has updated its in-flight entertainment offerings, including expanded HBO content, Vevo videos and concerts, as well as free personal device entertainment on two-cabin United Express regional jets.
Customers on flights with personal device entertainment may enjoy popular films like “Birdman,” “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and the “Taken” trilogy, as well as kid-friendly favorites such as “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” and “The LEGO Movie.” TV shows are also available and may include HBO’s “Veep” and “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” as well as “Mad Men,” “Orange is the New Black” and others.
The airline has also begun rolling out personal device entertainment on its fleet of more than 120 Wi-Fi-equipped E170, E175 and CRJ700 regional jets, with more than half of these aircraft now offering free streaming entertainment. The airline plans to offer the service on all Wi-Fi-equipped regional jets by the end of next week.
The launch of personal device entertainment on regional jets follows United’s introduction this year of an all-new premium-cabin experience on United Express, featuring freshly prepared meals served on chinaware on regional jet flights of at least 800 miles.
Additionally, the airline has expanded HBO content on aircraft that offer personal device entertainment as well as on those with seatback on-demand entertainment. Available HBO entertainment includes full seasons of popular television shows such as “Entourage,” “Game of Thrones” and “True Detective.”
United has also joined with Vevo to offer hundreds of music videos and concert performances for customers to view at no charge on United aircraft offering personal device entertainment. Vevo content is also available through seatback on-demand entertainment.
Meanwhile, United is in its second year as the official airline of the Tribeca Film Festival. Flights with live television, seatback on-demand entertainment and personal device entertainment offer unique in-flight content curated by Tribeca, including independent feature narratives and documentaries as well as short films.
This summer, United also launched a pilot program offering tablets for rent on Boeing 777 flights between the continental United States and Honolulu and between Honolulu and Guam. The 8.4-inch tablets contain stored entertainment, including television shows, movies and games.