The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every industry, and perhaps travel more than any other. For the last two years, opening travel restrictions has been seen as a promise of normalcy. So, it was with great anxiety my family considered accompanying my aging mother to my sister’s place in upstate New York.
We currently live in the California Bay Area, so flying was obviously the only viable option. As the date for the trip approached, my fears about it grew. The logistics of a wheelchair to transport my mom was new to me, and while my wife and I could travel light, Mom has a big suitcase—would there be an issue with baggage handling? And of course, the obvious cloud of possible Covid exposure—it all weighed heavily on my mind.
The day before the trip, I made sure that my frequent flyer card was in my wallet—just in case I had to reach one of the airline’s support agents to help manage any of those issues that might crop up.
As it turned out, my fears were unfounded. From the start of our trip, the helpful agent at the check-in kiosk printed out the baggage tags and attach them to our luggage, gave us our gate number, called for the wheelchair, and directed us to the security line. As we made our way through the airport, I wondered what would have happened if there had been no agent available at the check-in kiosks. As I made my way to the plane, it occurred to me that these situations are not new and could be encountered by any traveler. The break from travel might have just made me more aware of these things.
A large percentage of people have never flown before and possibly have no clue to what’s going on. Some people just don’t operate comfortably in an environment like a busy airport. Especially during the holidays, everybody is buzzing around, going in different directions for a thousand different reasons. Some people might fly once every year, or twice maybe. Add in new safety protocols and health precautions, and the airport can be a tad overwhelming.
And I wondered – wouldn’t it be nice if helpful airline agents were easily reachable from anywhere? Not just at check-in or at the gate but from practically any point in between? And possibly from anywhere?
I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the gate…and as an answer to my thoughts, there was a nice poster that in big bold letters essentially said: “Scan the QR Code printed on this poster and a friendly agent will be right there to assist you.” There were no phone numbers to search for, no website to reach and navigate the fine print to reach an agent—Just scan and connect with a phone camera.
From my point of view, the airline was living up to its promise of “Friendly Skies.”
Seeing that sign and realizing how easy it was to use, also reinforced the basis and assumptions that we had made in creating Loookit. Our original vision of Loookit involved creating the experience of sitting across from a helpful agent who could resolve any problem—even if we were in different time zones and thousands of miles apart.
We added a multitude of ways to connect. You could just scan a QR code, click on a link in text exchanges, a button press on a website, or a selection in a chat session, etc… any of these would connect you, with a friendly, support agent. And we wanted the session with the agent to be a rich exchange—not just a voice and video call but also be able to handle Images. Think of an agent looking at your tickets for gate numbers, seat assignments and boarding groups, then giving you directions clearly on a map, showing a video demonstration of safety precautions, pretty much anything you can imagine sharing.
My experience in the airport really reinforced my appreciation for being able to quickly connect with an agent to get the information I need during a critical time. This I believe is the next frontier in communications. And I’m proud to say Loookit is here with just such a solution.