Amazon’s Alexa finds herself up in the air with Australasia’s airlines

Airlines across Australia and New Zealand are jumping on the Amazon bandwagon, thanks to today’s announcement that Alexa is set to arrive on our shores. The Amazon “Echo” devices hit stores in Australia and New Zealand in early Feb-2018 with Qantas, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand all announcing features to be made available through the Amazon Alexa skill store. The skills allow guests to find out more flight information by simply “asking” Alexa.

Virgin Australia will initially launch two skills for Alexa, which will be available to customers to use with their Amazon Echo and Alexa-enabled devices from early Feb-2018. Virgin Australia’s skills will allow customers to have more control over their flight bookings and Velocity Frequent Flyer membership through the power of their voice. After enabling the skill, customers will be able to ask Alexa for information on their upcoming flight status, for example: “Alexa, ask Virgin Australia for the status of VA970 today”; and “Alexa, ask Virgin Australia for my points balance”.

Virgin Australia Chief Information Officer, Cameron Stone said: “Virgin Australia is always looking for innovative technologies that make the travel experience easier for our guests, and we are very excited to be launching our own skills for Amazon Alexa.”

Air New Zealand’s feature to be made available through the Amazon Alexa skill store, will be limited at the moment to allowing its customers to check their flight status, however Air New Zealand Chief Digital Officer Avi Golan confirmed: “As more people become familiar with this type of technology we’ll look to build on what we can do”. Mr Golan continued, “voice is an increasingly popular channel in this market and to ensure we use it effectively we’ve spent considerable time researching user habits on voice services. What we’ve learnt is using services like Alexa can require a step change in behaviours so it’s been critical that we keep our skill simple initially and make it easy for customers to use.”

Qantas has also been announced as a major partner with Amazon and Alexa, however details of the exact skills range is still forthcoming.