United Airlines to Equip 6,000 Customer Service Representatives With the iPhone 6 Plus

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United Airlines today announced a plan to equip its customer service representatives in each United States-based hub with Apple's iPhone 6 Plus. The airline said that the plan will allow each rep to assist passengers' needs faster while giving them access to "additional operational information" without needing to search for outside help.

"Our employees told us they needed better tools to serve our customers, especially during severe weather and busier travel times," said Jon Roitman, United's senior vice president of airport operations. "We have seen great success with the custom-made tools on the iPhone 6 Plus and believe expanding the use of a smart phone device with other applications is a great investment in our employees."
Estimated to begin in 2016, United will distribute an iPhone 6 Plus -- 2014's 5.5-inch display iPhone -- to more than 6,000 of its representatives across the United States. The new initiative will let the company's reps print boarding passes and baggage tags before departure, and even help customers find alternative flight options. Future enhancements to the program will bring fully-realized check-in opportunities and enough well-rounded features to give customers "much of the same functionality as traditional airport kiosks."

Previously in June, United distributed iPhones to its flight attendants in an effort to provide better customer service in-flight to passengers. That initiative was announced a year ago, so today's customer service representative program will probably see a similar six month gestation period before launching.

Article Link: United Airlines to Equip 6,000 Customer Service Representatives With the iPhone 6 Plus
 

scaredpoet

macrumors 604
Apr 6, 2007
6,627
342
What anyone has flown United knows: If you have their app, you're likely to know more about your delayed/canceled/changed flight than the ticket/gate agents do, and you'll know it sooner.

United's solution? Give their employees phones with the app. Brilliant.

I don't fly United anymore.
 

bushido

Suspended
Mar 26, 2008
8,070
2,754
Germany
i hear americans always complain about United but i flew with 6 United planes for the first time last month and no issues whatsoever but yeah ... they wont know much more than checking the app themselves
 

keysofanxiety

macrumors G3
Nov 23, 2011
9,534
25,266
What anyone has flown United knows: If you have their app, you're likely to know more about your delayed/canceled/changed flight than the ticket/gate agents do, and you'll know it sooner.

United's solution? Give them phones with the app. Brilliant.
Wording of the article seems to hint that there'll be more applications being released for their customer service reps, so it's not all the same app you use.

and believe expanding the use of a smart phone device with other applications is a great investment in our employees."
 
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scaredpoet

macrumors 604
Apr 6, 2007
6,627
342
Wording of the article seems to hint that there'll be more applications being released for their customer service reps, so it's not all the same app you use.

If those additional apps are anywhere near mimicking the existing tools they have, those employees will be better off getting their own phone to using United's consumer app, or even external apps like TripIt and Flight Update Pro. Whatever tools United has given their staff up to now chronically leaves them sorely underinformed about what their own company is doing.
 

keysofanxiety

macrumors G3
Nov 23, 2011
9,534
25,266
If those additional apps are anywhere near mimicking the existing tools they have, those employees will be better off getting their own phone to using United's consumer app, or even external apps like TripIt and Flight Update Pro. Whatever tools United has given their staff up to now chronically leaves them sorely underinformed about what their own company is doing.
OK, well at least they're doing something to make it better, I suppose. If it has been as bad as you said, it's good to start some positive change.
 
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konqerror

macrumors 68020
Dec 31, 2013
2,298
3,688
The iPhone 6 Plus is the wrong device for in-flight, and people have complained about it. Their solution has no receipt printer. This causes issues for business travelers who have to submit receipts for reimbursement. Where I worked before, if you didn't have a paper receipt, you had to submit your credit card statement which was a pain. Even if you don't, you forget about the charge and lose out on the money.

I don't care about the benefits to the employees or the company, I just want my paper receipt. From a customer perspective, their old device is far better.
 

goomba478

macrumors regular
May 10, 2012
176
113
I was printing off shipping labels using my wireless printer last night so the iPhone is more than capable of Printing. I didn't even need to configure it. It "just worked" :).
 
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ptb42

macrumors 6502a
Oct 14, 2011
703
184
The iPhone 6 Plus is the wrong device for in-flight, and people have complained about it. Their solution has no receipt printer. This causes issues for business travelers who have to submit receipts for reimbursement. Where I worked before, if you didn't have a paper receipt, you had to submit your credit card statement which was a pain. Even if you don't, you forget about the charge and lose out on the money.
American Airlines has been doing this for awhile. And, if you need a receipt -- it's really easy:

http://www.aa.com/receipts/

United has this as well:

https://inflightreceipts.ual.com/en/us/Home/Index

I don't know what airline you might fly, but it's likely they have something similar.
 
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ptb42

macrumors 6502a
Oct 14, 2011
703
184
How do you know the iPhone based solution has no printer? There might be a laser printer under the counter and the phone and can the prints there.
He was referring to IN-FLIGHT purchases.

American Airlines hasn't accepted cash for in-flight purchases for at least the past year. They use a PDA device (not sure of the vendor) to swipe the card and enter the amount. The transactions are transmitted in a batch after landing, although it might use inflight WiFi if it's available.

They have no receipt printer on the plane, but you can go online and print a receipt after the charge is posted.
 

Boldie24

macrumors newbie
Jul 4, 2010
2
0
What anyone has flown United knows: If you have their app, you're likely to know more about your delayed/canceled/changed flight than the ticket/gate agents do, and you'll know it sooner.

United's solution? Give their employees phones with the app. Brilliant.

I don't fly United anymore.
Thanks, more room for me
 

konqerror

macrumors 68020
Dec 31, 2013
2,298
3,688
I detailed why that's not acceptable. You forget that you made the purchase because it's not in the stack of other receipts, and second, some companies don't accept web printed receipts without further justification, especially since you can buy alcohol on board.

At minimum, I have to go back after the trip, figure out the flight number, date, and credit card, then print it out, instead of just handing the stack of receipts to the travel people. It's even bad for the environment: instead of a small strip of paper, the receipt is now 8.5x11.

The old system used a handheld device that had a printer built in. I'm not the first person to complain:
https://unitedairtime.com/your-questions/on-board-purchases-are-paperless/
 

Gasu E.

macrumors 601
Mar 20, 2004
4,622
2,632
Not far from Boston, MA.
I detailed why that's not acceptable. You forget that you made the purchase because it's not in the stack of other receipts, and second, some companies don't accept web printed receipts without further justification, especially since you can buy alcohol on board.

At minimum, I have to go back after the trip, figure out the flight number, date, and credit card, then print it out, instead of just handing the stack of receipts to the travel people. It's even bad for the environment: instead of a small strip of paper, the receipt is now 8.5x11.

The old system used a handheld device that had a printer built in. I'm not the first person to complain:
https://unitedairtime.com/your-questions/on-board-purchases-are-paperless/

Did the old system provide for a paperless receipt? Most companies accept paperless receipts, and make them easier to deal with. If it didn't, the old system was actually worse for the environment.
 
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konqerror

macrumors 68020
Dec 31, 2013
2,298
3,688
Did the old system provide for a paperless receipt? Most companies accept paperless receipts, and make them easier to deal with. If it didn't, the old system was actually worse for the environment.
It isn't. The old receipt was something like 2 inches by 3 inches = 6 square inches. 8.5x11 = 93.5 square inches. One page = 15.6 old receipts. Unless people print less than 1 in 16 receipts, the new system is worse. On top of that, I seem to recall that the old system was online too, and they would ask you whether you needed a receipt.
 
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ptb42

macrumors 6502a
Oct 14, 2011
703
184
I detailed why that's not acceptable.
No, you complained that you had to dig out your credit card statement.

At minimum, I have to go back after the trip, figure out the flight number, date, and credit card, then print it out, instead of just handing the stack of receipts to the travel people. It's even bad for the environment: instead of a small strip of paper, the receipt is now 8.5x11.
Wow, that's hard. Looks like you'll just have to eat the cost, since you think your time is worth more than that.

Back in the real world, my company went paperless long ago: I don't submit printed receipts at all. If I have them, I have to scan them. But for this particular case, I just print the webpage to a PDF and upload it.

Before we went completely paperless, my company was actually sending the receipts to another company, who scanned them and sent the images back to our finance dept for archival -- after requiring me to tape receipts to as many 8.5 x 11 pages as I needed to make it easier for them. Without the middleman, I can just plop the receipts on my flat-bed scanner and build a multi-page PDF.
 

UnusedLoginID

macrumors regular
Feb 28, 2012
210
196
United systems were great, then they merged with Continental and decided - big mistake - to use Continental's systems. Nothing was user-friendly anymore, search features were gone and I know a few United agents who told me they were missing the United systems too. Maybe these iPhones will help, though by the time the agents get them, it will be 2-year old technology. Oh well…
 

ApfelKuchen

macrumors 68040
Aug 28, 2012
3,770
2,345
Between the coasts
The iPhone 6 Plus is the wrong device for in-flight, and people have complained about it. Their solution has no receipt printer. This causes issues for business travelers who have to submit receipts for reimbursement. Where I worked before, if you didn't have a paper receipt, you had to submit your credit card statement which was a pain. Even if you don't, you forget about the charge and lose out on the money.

I don't care about the benefits to the employees or the company, I just want my paper receipt. From a customer perspective, their old device is far better.
People complain about anything and everything. The fact that a complaint exists does not prove the validity of the complaint.

I remember when on-board sales were cash-only. Must have been utter hell for business travelers.

Companies reimburse for alcoholic beverage and snack purchases? Wow! No wonder the prices are so high.

I presume this is for per-diem travel allowances, not for entertaining customers? The few reimbursement policies I've encountered tend to be more specific about what a breakfast, lunch, or dinner can (and can't) be, but nice work if you can get it.
 

jpmd70

macrumors member
I detailed why that's not acceptable. You forget that you made the purchase because it's not in the stack of other receipts, and second, some companies don't accept web printed receipts without further justification, especially since you can buy alcohol on board.

At minimum, I have to go back after the trip, figure out the flight number, date, and credit card, then print it out, instead of just handing the stack of receipts to the travel people. It's even bad for the environment: instead of a small strip of paper, the receipt is now 8.5x11.

The old system used a handheld device that had a printer built in. I'm not the first person to complain:
https://unitedairtime.com/your-questions/on-board-purchases-are-paperless/
No, it's sounds like your company doesn't accept web printed receipts.
IMO your just being lazy
 

ignatius345

macrumors 68030
Aug 20, 2015
2,867
3,837
What anyone has flown United knows: If you have their app, you're likely to know more about your delayed/canceled/changed flight than the ticket/gate agents do, and you'll know it sooner.

United's solution? Give their employees phones with the app. Brilliant.

I don't fly United anymore.
I had a United flight a couple months ago that got delayed multiple times -- but they were very proactive with their alerts and I got them before I left for the airport. I was still delayed, but I was delayed on my own couch :)
 

konqerror

macrumors 68020
Dec 31, 2013
2,298
3,688
I remember when on-board sales were cash-only. Must have been utter hell for business travelers.
Those were the days before you had to buy stuff on board because food was free... and I still recall they would write a paper receipt if asked.

Companies reimburse for alcoholic beverage and snack purchases? Wow! No wonder the prices are so high.
Nope. Total opposite. When you get a normal meal reimbursed, you have to prove that you didn't order alcohol. Restaurants that obviously don't serve alcohol like McDonald's don't raise a flag as much as restaurants where you can buy drinks. This is a common requirement if your company does any business with the US Government and becomes a target for auditors.

I know somebody who got fired precisely because they got caught in an audit for charging alcohol on a corporate card, so getting itemized receipts is about protecting yourself as well.

I presume this is for per-diem travel allowances, not for entertaining customers? The few reimbursement policies I've encountered tend to be more specific about what a breakfast, lunch, or dinner can (and can't) be, but nice work if you can get it.
Everywhere I've worked, the rules are the simple and the same: stay under the GSA meal limit, no alcohol, no entertainment with the meal. Alcohol and entertaining customers needs special justification and funds.

The only differing policy i've been subject to is if they merge three meals into one sum, or they treat the meal limits separately. Usually they let you roll snacks in with a meal.
 
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