KLM is the world’s first airline to use WhatsApp to talk to passengers

Passengers can opt to talk to customer service representatives via WhatsApp. Source: KLM

DUTCH airline KLM will use their new WhatsApp business account to communicate with passengers about flight updates, or for customers to directly contact the airline’s social media service agents 24/7.

The airline is the first in the world to have a verified WhatsApp account, but the service is expected to become more widely available in the coming weeks.

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“We want to be where our customers are and, given the one billion users, you have to be on WhatsApp,” KLM President & CEO Pieter Elbers said in a press statement: “With an account verified by WhatsApp, we offer our customers worldwide a reliable way to receive their flight information and ask questions 24/7.”

WhatsApp is currently testing ways for businesses to communicate with customers using the service, and this pilot program is an onset for what could possibly be normal practice for other international airlines.

 

Customers who want to make use of the service are required to check the box when checking-in online and fill in their WhatsApp phone number. The system then checks immediately whether the phone number is registered as a WhatsApp account, and if so, a check mark appears.

The service is available in nine languages: Dutch, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

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According to WhatsApp, the “messages are secure and can only be read by the customer and KLM – no one else; not even WhatsApp”. They added that “customers can easily recognize verified businesses using the official WhatsApp business application”.

This means that customers will see a green checkmark badge next to the KLM contact name on WhatsApp. The new service is only available to passengers who book tickets or check in via the airline website and opt-in to receive information via WhatsApp.