Top African carrier launches continent’s first airline USSD service

Kenya’s national airline, Kenya Airways, has partnered with Cellulant, a mobile service provider, to launch an in-flight bulk SMS and USSD service set to enable passengers enjoy an array of interactive services.

Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni said the airline is looking to diversify customer-service information delivery channels beyond the conventional platforms and that the partnership focused on exploring newer avenues to achieve the goals.

Dubbed the KQ Mobile, the service will reqire passengers to send a query to *737# to confirm flight details, cargo status, timetable and ticketing services.

The service that will be available across 56 airline destinations — as a roaming service — comprises bulk Short Message Service (SMS), which enables users to send SMS to the airline through local and international mobile operator networks, and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) platforms, which enables the user’s handset to perform certain information transactions through certain codes.

Following the move, the airline is now poised to deliver information to customers on real-time, as well as customise services to customers.

Cellulant’s chief business officer Paul Ndichu said the new partnership is set to enable Kenya Airways manage an array of interactive phone-based platforms to engage its stakeholders including customers and staff in improving communication, enabling payments and providing passengers an opportunity to customize their travel experiences.

This makes Kenya Airways the first airline in Africa to provide a phone-based solution that operates internationally.

The new service will however complement the already existing SMS service. In 2009, Kenya Airways started an SMS-based service that would help users check their flight time to avoid missing flights. By sending an SMS to 7767, passengers can get information on scheduled flight departure and arrival times plus the latest real-time update of their flight’s status, including any delays.

The 7767 service is only available in Kenya.

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