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American Airlines updates mobile app with touchless check-in experience, useful widget

Sept. 23, 2020
4 min read
American Airlines updates mobile app with touchless check-in experience, useful widget
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American Airlines is doubling down on the mobile app experience.

On Wednesday, the Fort Worth-based carrier announced two traveler-friendly updates to its iOS app. Specifically, all Apple devices updated to the latest iOS 14 software now support a touchless check-in experience. Plus, flyers who've upgraded to the newest American app will have the ability to see important day-of-travel information with a brand-new widget.

As Kevin MacFarland, AA's managing director of digital and merchandising, explained to TPG in an interview, "we want to be on the platform and places that our customers are, and deliver them the right info at the right time." With Wednesday's app release, the carrier is indeed following through on that mission.

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Say you're a first-time AA flyer. (There are many of them, according to a recent interview with Vasu Raja, American's chief revenue officer.)

When you approach a check-in kiosk at American's Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) megahub, there will be a QR code ready for you to scan. If your Apple device is running iOS 14, scanning the code will launch an App Clip — a miniature version of the AA app that will allow you to check-in on your device without touching the kiosk or downloading the full version of the app.

If you happen to already have the AA app installed, then you can complete mobile, touch-free check-in as before.

Checking-in via the App Clip is currently limited to departures from DFW. MacFarland noted that enabling the capability systemwide requires a simple software update on the airport check-in kiosks. Pending positive feedback, the carrier plans to expand the touchless check-in experience systemwide.

(Image courtesy of American Airlines)

The other new app feature — the day-of-departure widget — is an important tool for customers during the end-to-end travel experience. Flyers can place the widget front and center on the home screen, and it will display flight status, connecting gate information, arrival times and more.

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MacFarland explained that "for now, we're focused on seeing how customers use the widget and react to it. We have some ideas around loyalty and engagement [for how we can further build it out]." American is encouraging users to submit their feedback by reviewing the app on the App Store, or by clicking the "contact the developer" button on their devices.

(Image courtesy of American Airlines)

For now, flyers will be able to experience AA's latest innovations on Apple devices only. MacFarland admitted that "the overwhelming majority of our AAdvantage members" use iOS. Nonetheless, he added that "we strive for feature parity between operating systems," so it's likely a matter of time until the updates detailed Wednesday are rolled out to Android. (American does seem to have a great relationship with Apple, though. You can now stream Apple TV+ shows and listen to Apple Music while inflight, for free.)

With the launch of the newest app, American is about to add another anti-coronavirus milestone to its Clean Commitment. "We've made almost all of the travel journey touchless," said MacFarland.

Wednesday's update is the latest in a series the carrier has made to its app and online experience. Earlier in the pandemic, American debuted a chat feature and virtual assistant for those looking for quick, on-device help from customer care.

Related: American Airlines permanently eliminates most change fees

In addition, the airline recently overhauled its upgrade and standby lists. Now, the "waitlist" feature breaks down the upgrade list by cabin and also shows the standby list for your flight. You'll also be able to view the waitlist beginning at eight hours before departure — it was previously just four.

Though American is the first U.S. carrier to take advantage of Apple's iOS 14, several other travel companies have already released updated apps that take advantage of some of the new features.

Hotwire's new widget highlights last-minute weekend hotel deals under $200 a night near your current location. TripIt, an online travel organization platform, launched a new widget that displays the most relevant details for your upcoming trips on the home screen.

When we recover from the pandemic, the future of travel is likely going to continue being as touchless as possible. As such, American's latest app update sets the carrier up for success in a post-pandemic world.

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  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023