Starting Monday and running through February 16, United Airlines will be testing a new system at two airports—Phoenix and Houston—that will help passengers understand exactly why their flight is delayed. The program is called “Every Flight Has a Story.”
In an effort to help reduce the amount of stress and anxiety travelers face when waiting for a flight, United Airlines is test launching a new notification system next week. From Monday through February 16, passengers waiting for delayed more than an hour at the Phoenix and Houston airports will be participants in a program called “Every Flight Has a Story.” While waiting, they will receive a text or email explaining in detail why the flight is delayed. And so the gate agents and crew will still be able to answer questions for passengers, they will all receive the same notification – just five minutes earlier than the passengers.
“We have situations where our customers are super frustrated because we can’t tell them what’s going on — a maintenance delay, weather, or rolling delays,” United’s president Scott Kirby, told employees at a 2017 town hall meeting in Los Angeles, reported by Skift. “They’re frustrated with that, or they think we’re lying to them.”
Previously, the airline briefly tested the program for a delayed flight out of Newark. Many flights were delayed due to weather, but not the weather in Newark or the destination, Chicago. The problem was thunderstorms in airspace planes coming from Florida needed to go around.
“[Normally] we would just say weather delay, and people look out and say it’s perfectly clear here, it’s perfectly clear in Chicago, you’re lying,” Kirby said.
This time, though, detailed information was sent to customers, showing images of the storm and explaining that the flight would be late because the plane was coming up from Fort Lauderdale and needed to divert course. The extra information appeared to work in calming down customers.
“No one likes a delay but at least they understand,” Kirby said. “If we can tell people what’s going on, it will relieve so much stress and so much tension.”