A recent report said that WhatsApp, one of the leading online communication apps, is now being tested as a customer service tool by an airline. The airline, Dutch giant, KLM, had announced an experimental run in the use of the instant messaging service WhatsApp for customer service communication with select members of the airline?s Flying Blue programme. The airline had set up a dedicated WhatsApp number for the participants in the pilot program to determine the viability of the travel in the long run.
Is it Feasible?
There are still quite a number of hurdles in order to make WhatsApp a standard communications tool in the airline industry. First is the projected increase in the use of in-flight wi-fi access. Not every flight has the access, with about international flights having only a 24% chance of making it available to its flyers while the US has a better percentage, about 66% chance that the US flight would have Wi-Fi access.
A comprehensive survey conducted by Routehappy found that in the first half of 2015, the in-flight connectivity has increased tremendously. It is now being offered on an increasing number of flights than in all of history.
According to Routehappy?s Data Research Manager, ?Domestically, Wi-Fi is being offered on more flights than ever before.?
For What Purpose?
Having in-flight internet, together with the use of WhatsApp onboard may help tremendously in not only listening to complaints about turbulence or lost baggage. The app could have helped tremendously in finding out the last known location of crashes and other events during an accident. This can be obtained from the functionality of WhatsApp, chief among them is GPS tracking. WhatsApp features a locator function that is shared with fellow WhatsApp users. It can also track messages from where they were sent out.
The Possible Use
A simple wi-fi connection during Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, with a passenger using WhatsApp at the time of the emergency situation, could have provided a wealth of information for the search and rescue teams. The GPS locator would have pinpointed the location of the crash site, saving much time and effort for all involved. This simple app could have afforded all the necessary closure to the tragic event.