Back in October we checked up on airline iPhone apps, and wondered why so few carriers had hopped on the app wagon. In the four months since – an eternity in Internet time – several airlines have taken their mobile efforts to the next level.
The very first airline apps were so basic you’d expect them to be a no-brainer for any brand. They provided booking, flight information, flight tracking and mobile boarding passes, eliminating the need to dig through your luggage.
Then last summer Air Canada became the first carrier to provide complimentary travel information through their app, including weather updates and the ability to rent a car.
In the last few months, things have gotten even more interesting. Southwest Airlines’ brand new app does everything mentioned above, but includes a built-in DING! function, which notifies frequent flyers of exclusive airfare deals.
Cathay Pacific’s app includes 68 destination guides. It also allows passengers to “Meet the Team” by browsing photos of Cathay Staff, making the journey experience that much more personal.
But leading the way is Lufthansa, with three different mobile tools. The Lufthansa Launcher provides customers with the now-standard booking, tracking and boarding services. Not a true native app, it directs customers to the German airline’s iPhone-optimized site.
The recently released Lufthansa Navigator acts as a GPS, providing travellers with an interactive map and Google Street View-like functionality. It will store your flight information and tell you exactly how to get to your gate, check-in counter, baggage carousel or favourite airport lounge. A native/web app hybrid, some features are embedded into the app itself, while others direct you to the optimized site. For now the Navigator is only being tested in Frankfurt Airport, but it’s a sign of things to come.
The third app encourages Lufthansa’s Miles & More frequent flyers to engage with one another. MemberScout allows passengers to share their geo-location, arrange meet-ups, give and receive travel advice, and even share taxies—a social feature suggested in this Sparksheet think piece last summer. How long until Lufthansa combines its three apps into one mobile monster?
A handful of other airlines launched basic apps in the last few months, including GOL, Luxair and Swiss International Airlines. And Singapore Airlines is already integrating iPhone connectivity into its seatback system.
But it’s surprising how many of the world’s largest airlines have yet to leave their mark on the iPhone or any other mobile device. In the meantime, we’ll keep checking up on them.