Alaska Airlines begins customer service via SMS


A new feature from Alaska Airlines may soon end wasted time on the phone waiting for travel help and a text instead. Flyers can message 82008 to connect with a customer service representative for answers to simple travel questions.

An estimated 70% of people who contact Alaska use a mobile device, according to the airline. Of the calls made to the airline, Alaska estimates that 40% of them could be handled by SMS.

In the United States, only Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Air now offer the ability to connect with airline customer service representatives via SMS, but nearly all provide some level of customer support through Twitter and Facebook Messenger. (Hawaiian launched its service in August.)

Help you can get via text message includes: flight delays and schedule changes, emotional support or service animal requests, seating assignments, upgrades, accessible travel service requests and questions about the Alaska frequent flyer program, the mileage plan.

We are told that SMS customer service cannot help you make new bookings, voluntary flight changes and cancellations, paid seat upgrades, and Mileage Plan registration if you don’t have a reservation at come.

When we tried it this week, here’s what happened. I SMS 82008 saying, “I’m testing your new help function for a story I’m writing for SFGate.” How’s it going ? “

Alaska: Reply Y to SMS with us for customer service and offers and agree to the terms. Texts can be automated. Consent not required for purchase.

I do

Alaska: Thank you. An agent will be with you shortly. Messaging and data charges may apply. To unsubscribe, send QUIT. This service does not accept images or emojis.

Hello my name is Craig and I will help you today

Me: Hi Craig. I’m testing your new help feature for a story I’m writing for SFGate. How are you. (In my head, I’m now wondering if I’m interacting with a human or a robot.)

Alaska: Good how are you? Is there anything I can help you with?

I do. Can you tell me what is your next flight to Seattle today with seats available? From the OFS.

Alaska: Sure. One moment. The next flight will depart on Alaska 1088 at 5:32 p.m.

Me: Ok thank you. Are there window seats available? (Still wondering … human or robot?)

Alaska: Yes, there is a window available

Me: Perfect. I will check the site. Are you a human or a robot?

Alaska: You are welcome. I’m an agent with Alaska

Me: Great. Thank you. It’s good to see this new option working fine.

Alaska: Thank you for choosing Alaska. We value your business. – Craig

Alaska SMS Support cannot accept payments. Therefore, if your booking requires a fee, it may be best to deal with these requests the old-fashioned way over the phone or through the airline’s website.

Alaska Air also offers a chat feature on its website called “Ask Jenn” where passengers can get answers to frequently asked questions. “Ask Jenn” is an automated system – so you won’t be interacting with a real person the way you would if you were calling or texting customer call centers in Alaska.

All US carriers are implementing social media operation, following tweets, Facebook posts, and responding to passenger inquiries in real time.

Text messaging customer support is an obvious next step for airlines to interact with aviators. Making onboard phone calls via onboard wifi is banned by many carriers, but more and more airlines are introducing free in-flight texting for customers. Click here for our article on this.

Alaska has offered free in-flight messaging for some time, and it really makes sense that other carriers follow suit and give passengers another convenient customer service option.

Do you have or would you use SMS to interact with airline customer service? Please leave your thoughts on the comments.

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Chris McGinnis is the founder of The author is solely responsible for the above content, and is used here with his permission. You can reach Chris at [email protected] or on Twitter @cjmcginnis.

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