The arrival of millennials and Gen Z in the workplace at Air Canada has changed how we approach our business and become a key driver of innovation. We have 20-year-olds who are already revolutionizing our customer-service delivery and showing how technology can make travel easier for coming generations.
In August 1999, in what seems like another time, we introduced self-service kiosks at Canadian airports. We were admittedly unsure if customers would accept this technology, but they embraced its ability to help whisk them through airports. Each year, millions use kiosks to conveniently check in, print boarding passes and bag tags, change or upgrade seats, and more.
Now the kiosk is being supplanted as people increasingly turn to our mobile app and website to transact and interact with us. Today, more than half of our customers use these services to check in. This fall, we will refine our mobile services to enhance the user experience and lay the technical foundation to interface with another major innovation, our new passenger service system (PSS).
When it launches, PSS will transform our back office. It will enable us to better manage bookings, particularly during disruptions caused by weather. Down the road, we foresee new capabilities—imagine being at a foreign airport with your phone directing you in real time to your gate.
Our desire to innovate through technology is pervasive. Recently, Air Canada Cargo partnered with a drone company to help shippers reach non-traditional markets. We are applying AI to recruiting, virtual reality is being used for safety awareness and marketing, and we are engaged in a biometric pilot program that may someday let you pass security, board and clear customs through facial recognition. Soon, we will take delivery of our first Airbus A220, a Canadian-designed aircraft whose state-of-the-art technology provides unrivalled comfort and efficiency.
Using new technology to improve customer service keeps us ahead of the crowd. It is one reason Air Canada has been named the Best Airline in North America for three straight years.
Calin’s column appears every month in enRoute Magazine, Air Canada’s award-winning in-flight magazine found onboard all Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge and Air Canada Express flights. This edition is from the August 2019 issue.