By Curtis Kopf, Vice President of Customer Innovation, Alaska Airlines
At Alaska Airlines, we want to be the easiest airline to fly. And one of the ways we want to accomplish that is by using innovative technology.
Alaska was the first US airline to offer online booking in 1996 and the first to offer self-service check-in in 1999. Now our customers are embracing mobile as part of their travel experience, so we want to provide great mobile experiences. Tablets are becoming especially popular for researching and booking travel.
When Microsoft introduced Windows 8, we started thinking about how we could take advantage of its easy to use apps and intuitive design to help our customers. In fact, while we were still considering a new travel app for Windows 8, one of our developers stayed up most of the night building a prototype—just for fun! The next morning, he came into my office to show us what he’d developed. It was fantastic.
We decided to partner with Microsoft to create a Deals and Destinations App, which is tailored to help our customers find the best deals. The app is available free for download from the Windows 8 Store and it is optimized for a variety of devices, including tablets and any desktop PC running Windows 8.
Travelers can use the app to search for tickets to any one of the 90+ cities across North America and Mexico that Alaska serves. As they browse fares, shoppers can view photos and read descriptions of the places they plan to visit. Once customers are ready to lock in their purchase, they are directed to the main Alaska Airlines website to complete the transaction.
In collaboration with developers from Microsoft, we were able to go from concept to full release in five weeks, which is pretty amazing. One of the things we’re most proud of is how beautiful the graphics are and how intuitive the navigation experience is. With Windows 8, we were able to imbue a practical, easy-to-use fare finder app with all the romance and mystique that travel can hold.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive. We released the app in December 2012 and it’s been downloaded well more than 20,000 times to date. And with our Deals and Destinations App, Alaska Airlines achieved yet another technology first—we became the first U.S. carrier to launch a Windows 8 app that delivers the latest airfare deals to a user’s desktop and merges seamlessly with social sites like Facebook. Our Windows 8 Deals and Destinations App is more evidence of our commitment to using innovative technology to make Alaska Airlines the easiest airline to fly.