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Making travel “touchless” via technology, how AA is doing it?

Ai Editorial

12th July, 2021

The Covid19 pandemic is being perceived as an opportunity by the likes of American Airlines to make travel more seamless and touchless. The airline’s EVP and CIO Maya Leibman shared what has already been done and what’s in store during the recently held #MegaEvent21.


As airlines look to capture demand, be it for from much encouraging domestic market or still limited cross-border trips, they are looking at every aspect of their operations, including the role of technology, to get back on track.

“Travel has become more complex,” said Maya Leibman, EVP & Chief Information Officer, American Airlines (AA), who shared an experience of a flight and said there were a number of steps involved. And she said tech should play a role in reducing complexity.

For its part, AA, for instance, decided to simplify the entire experience, right from planning, shopping and the actual journey by undertaking technology-related projects, some of them only because of the pandemic.

For the shopping or booking flow, the airline ensured it shared practical information such as restrictions to be adhered to at destinations. Also, how to streamline the details that a passenger had (related to testing, vaccine etc.) and make easier the airport experience, agent interaction and so on. The airline chose to work with Daon and its app VeriFLY to give customers peace of mind. Some other initiatives: The airline has also featured interactive, map-based user interface to take care of the concerns of travellers. Plus, AA also launched virtual assistant functionality.

Facilitating touchless experiences

In addition to focusing on seamlessness, AA found new ways to be “touchless”.

Maya acknowledged that some of the developments like touchless kiosk at the airport took shape only because of the pandemic.

If one had checked in prior to the coming to the airport and need to check in a bag, they could use the boarding pass on the phone and scan it at the kiosk to generate the bag tag. Also, kiosk could be used by even those who didn’t have the airline app. Maya explained the same and spoke about interaction with a kiosk even without a mobile app, by using a QR Code and again use the mobile device. “This rendered a piece of the app to check-in (and no need to touch the kiosk),” she said.

Maya also mentioned that AA is testing biometric technology-related options, including facial recognition, and a number of use cases have already been identified.

AA also simplified for travellers to know “how much stored value (or credit) is” there via a wallet in digital assets of the airline.

Jay Sorensen, President, IdeaWorksCompany added that airlines today have additional responsibility and “technology is going to be the saviour” going forward. He also added that health passports are going to be a necessity.

The session also featured Scott McCartney, Columnist & Travel Editor, Wall Street Journal, who interviewed Maya and Jay.

By Ritesh Gupta

Ai Team

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