United Airlines will now hold planes for connecting flyers – thanks to new tool

A United flight takes off from an airport (Photo: United Airlines)

If you have a tight connection while flying United Airlines, you might benefit from the airline’s new ConnectionSaver tool that identifies departing flights that can be held for connecting customers.

In February, United launched the ConnectionSaver tool at Denver International Airport and then expanded to Chicago O’Hare International Airport – two of the airline’s busiest hubs. United announced Monday it plans to expand the ConnectionSaver technology to other airports that United services in the future.

Connecting customers receive personalized text messages from ConnectionSaver with directions to the gate for their connecting flight; information about expected travel time between the two gates; and nearby amenities. 

In a Twitter video posted by United, there is an example of a flight docked at gate B23 at Chicago O’Hare, with passengers shown successfully making a connecting flight at gate C20 to Narita, Japan. The video explains that ConnectionSaver helped make the transfer.

As many as 150,000 customers make connections on United flights every day. Our new ConnectionSaver tool is making the experience better than ever. Here’s how: https://t.co/TzNFxibv4Mpic.twitter.com/pFLagOn3lM

A Twitter user responded to the video, “Does the tool account for what can sometimes be a 20 minute taxi to the gate at ORD? What about where in the plane the passenger sits? Someone in the back of a 757 could take 25 minutes to get off the plane.” 

In response to the tweet, United told USA TODAY, “The tool takes that all into account when deciding whether or not to hold the departing aircraft. The goal of the tool is to help connecting customers while not inconveniencing others. So if it will cause customers who are already boarded to miss their connections, or for the plane to arrive at its destination late, the tool will not advise for the departing flight to hold.”

According to United, during the past four months, over 14,400 customers who had connecting flights were able to make their flights thanks to ConnectionSaver.

“ConnectionSaver only works if it allows us to care for as many customers as possible – without inconveniencing others – and that’s exactly what this technology has shown it can do. We’re determined to capitalize on as many opportunities as possible to better serve and care for our customers and that’s part of what sets United apart from our competitors,” United’s Chief Customer Officer Toby Enqvist stated in a press release.

Flights that were held for connecting customers were delayed an average of six minutes. 

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