United Airlines Is First U.S. Airline To Support Live Activities

During its United Next event live-streamed on May 23, 2023, United Airlines officially announced its support for Apple’s Live Activities.

Introduction – Live Activities

Apple introduced Live Activities and Dynamic Island as part of its mobile operating platform iOS 16 exclusively for iPhone 14 Pro and 14 iPhone Pro Max models. In combination, users can receive real-time information on the lock screen without accessing the mobile application.

Larry Leung published an in-depth piece on the technologies and their many use cases for brands looking to improve customer experience strategy and build new touch points.

United Airlines And Live Activities

With the next iOS release 4.1.82 (scheduled for late May 2023), United Airlines becomes the first US airline to let passengers who meet the criteria above (i.e., have an iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max and have installed iOS 16.1 or later) take advantage of the new Live Activities features. The functionalities were announced as part of a big United Next presentation in Denver, United States on May 23, 2023, that also included a discussion on United Club expansion (including a Polaris Lounge for international travelers), additional gates, and more destinations.

United Next is landing in Denver (Source: United Airlines)

With Live Activities, United Airlines passengers would have real-time access to their boarding pass, gate and seat number, and a countdown clock to the departure time on their Lock Screen or while unlocked in the Dynamic Island, all without opening the United mobile application.

In the presentation, United Airlines’ Chief Customer Officer, mentioned that its customers check their mobile boarding pass and flight status nearly 800,000 times daily. This new mobile application upgrade will make the process more efficient and improve customer engagement.

United Airlines Is First U.S. Airline To Support Live Activities // Lock screen view (Source: United Airlines)

“We’re seeing soaring demand for travel this summer, and Live Activities puts all the flight information you need right at your fingertips, whether your iPhone is locked or you’re doing something else like checking email, listening to music or texting friends,” said Jojo. “This new feature is another way United is leveraging technology to improve our customers’ travel journey. It’s going to save passengers a lot of time, and we think they’re going to love it, especially during a busy travel season.”

In Detail

How do United Airlines customers turn on Live Activities on their iPhones?
In order to take advantage of Live Activities, United Airlines customers will need an iPhone 14 Pro/Pro Max or later installed with the latest operating system (iOS 16.1 or later), and an updated United application (4.1.82 or later).

These are the steps to turn the Live Activities features on:

Access the Settings app

Scroll down and tap Face ID & Passcode

Enter your passcode to continue

Scroll down to “Allow Access When Locked,” toggle the switch next to Live Activities to the green ON position

Once Live Activities is turned on, United Airlines customers can enjoy the following new features:

Receive information such as the flight number, on-time status, inbound aircraft status, estimated departure and arrival times, etc. in the Live Activity on the Lock Screen or the Dynamic Island, when expanded

Open their boarding pass directly from the Live Activity to quickly scan during security check-in or while boarding their flight

See departure and arrival gates, pre- and in-flight countdowns, and baggage carousel information right in the Dynamic Island

Passengers waiting for an upgrade or standby seat confirmations can see them in real-time through Dynamic Island.

United Airlines Is First U.S. Airline To Support Live Activities // Dynamic island view with an update to gate and boarding time (Source: United Airlines)

Other Worthwhile Features

More than three million passengers use the mobile application daily. Over the past few years, United Airlines has made significant investments in improving the customer experience through mobile application upgrades focusing on accessibility options (for the visually impaired), personalization, and navigation options. Here are some of these highlights in detail (Source: United Airlines):

Agent on Demand (Communication): United Airlines has a virtual, on-demand customer service tool that lets customers scan a QR code and video chat, text or call a customer service representative instead of waiting in line at the airport. Last year, 1.3 million customers used Agent on Demand to save time.

United Map Search (Travel Planning): Customers can easily compare and shop for flights based on departure city, budget, and location type, with an interactive map feature. Available on the United app and website, this digital tool displays fares in a map view, allowing customers to simultaneously compare travel to a variety of destinations in a single search.

Travel Ready Center (Travel Planning): This one-stop digital assistant on united.com and the United app outlines any necessary travel requirements with clear guidance, helping customers prepare for their travel and breeze through the airport without stopping for manual document checks.

Terminal Guide (Navigation): Customers receive personalized day-of instructions to navigate point-to-point throughout the airport – from directing them to the most ideal airport entrance to finding their departure gate.”

Better Customer Experience

Mobile application usage has skyrocketed over the past ten years. Travelers look for better engagement, design, and features at their fingertips. United Airlines reduces friction with Live Activities implementation which will be useful ahead of the busy Summer 2023 travel season.

Moving forward, expect the Chicago-based airline to build similar functionalities to the Android version of the application and add features that will allow for a smoother travel experience.

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