United Airlines Empowers Travelers with Live Radar Maps During Delays

A passnger accesses the United Airlines real-time radar map on her phone.
Photo Credit: United Airlines

United Airlines is taking customer transparency a step further by providing travelers with real-time information and live radar maps.

This will assist passengers with relevant information about potential disruptions to their flights during weather delays.

This innovative approach is part of the airline’s ongoing commitment to keep passengers informed and empowered throughout their journey.

Better Communication Through Text Messages and AI

For several years, United has utilized dedicated customer service teams to deliver near-instantaneous flight updates via text messages.

This includes details like gate changes, boarding times, aircraft swaps, crew rescheduling, and weather events.

Now, these teams are leveraging generative artificial intelligence (gen AI) tools to enhance their communication efforts and reach more travelers with real-time updates during flight delays.

A passnger accesses the United Airlines real-time radar map on her phone.
Photo Credit: United Airlines

Understanding Delays with Live Radar Maps

United’s latest innovation – real-time radar maps included in text messages – provides passengers with valuable insights into how weather patterns can disrupt flights across the country.

This unique feature allows travelers to visualize the impact of weather on their specific flight and surrounding areas.

United is currently the only U.S. airline offering these detailed weather-related updates, powered by gen AI technology.

Convenience and Transparency

“With a surge in summer travel anticipated, we aimed to simplify access to real-time flight information for our customers,” explains Jason Birnbaum, United’s Chief Information Officer.

“Transparency is paramount, and by combining innovative technology with human expertise, we can empower travelers with even more up-to-the-minute details about their flights.”

This initiative coincides with United’s projected busiest Fourth of July weekend ever, with over five million passengers expected to fly between June 28th and July 8th. This reflects a significant increase of more than 7% compared to last year.

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How Does it Work?

United’s network operations center houses specialized customer service teams working alongside flight operations teams.

These teams utilize gen AI to analyze flight data and craft comprehensive messages that explain flight changes in detail.

These informative updates are then sent to passengers via text or email, providing them with a clear understanding of why their flight plans might be altered.

During weather disruptions, messages will include links to local, live radar maps, offering a visual representation of weather patterns affecting flight paths.

This empowers passengers to stay informed about weather-related delays and how distant weather systems can impact their specific flight.

Additionally, weather map links are readily accessible within the United app under flight status updates, and physical radar maps are displayed in gate areas during weather-induced delays.

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United Airlines: Customer Services

United has consistently led the airline industry in implementing new technologies and policies that enhance customer transparency. Here are some key examples:

  • Automatic Rebooking Assistance: When a flight is delayed or canceled, United’s self-service tools automatically present personalized rebooking options, bag tracking information, and meal and hotel vouchers (when eligible) to passengers, eliminating the need to wait in line for assistance.
  • Real-Time Flight Updates: United is the only U.S. airline offering real-time access to boarding passes, gate and seat information, and countdown clocks directly on passengers’ phones, all without opening the app.
  • Free Family Seating: United is the first and only airline to provide a dynamic seat map feature that simplifies seating children under 12 next to an accompanying adult in their party, free of charge, even for Basic Economy travelers.
  • No Change Fees: In August 2020, United eliminated change fees, offering greater travel plan flexibility. Additionally, they introduced complimentary same-day standby travel, making them the only U.S. airline to allow all passengers in all classes of service to fly standby for free.

By prioritizing clear communication, real-time information, and innovative tools like live radar maps, United Airlines is empowering travelers to navigate their journeys with greater ease and understanding.


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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
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