Let me set the stage. You've just been on a never ending long haul flight that took off late. You're quite sure you will miss your connection and you are in a panic as you approach landing. Who to call? Where to go? Upon touching down and switching out of airplane mode you receive a pop up from the airline itself, letting you know that THEY know about your troubles, have already taken the necessary steps to get you on the plane in time or get you rebooked, oh and most likely upgraded. It's happening.
Think less "the computers are taking over" and more "social media is my friend". Delta and others have began trialling "virtual assists" where top tier flyers are proactively contacted via social media (twitter, facebook) about potential or actual disruptions and are presented with the best possible solutions automatically. Even when travel is smooth sailing, the service is there to try to enhance your trip with priority on upgrades and other amenities. The program is an extension of what many airlines already privately do in the real world for their high value customers otherwise known as "HVC's". Though it's rarely publicly acknowledged many airlines have teams in place to monitor their 50-250 highest spending travelers every move. They'll even send a Porsche to your arriving plane to get you to the next one on time. It happens every day. Whereas actual people power limits the number of customers you can help, a dedicated social media team allows for more passengers to be considered high value and receive a similar level of help and service when things go wrong without having to pick up the phone or find an agent.
This is a true game changer going forward. As elite benefits dwindle, this level of service is just the sort of thing to encourage loyalty. How happy would you be if a Porsche was waiting for you below the gate with a bottle of water and a well informed agent when you have flight troubles? See you in the sky. Or maybe not if I'm in a Porsche.
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