Flight change, refunds available on mobile phone

Domestic airlines are now allowing passengers to reschedule or refund tickets on their mobile phones amid frequent flight delays or cancellations due to bad weather.
Ti Gong

A passenger scans the QR code on a China Southern Airlines boarding pass to check information about his flight at Nanyang airport in east China's Jiangsu Province on Wednesday.

Domestic airlines began allowing passengers to reschedule or refund tickets on their mobile phones amid frequent flight delays or cancellations due to inclement weather.

China Southern Airlines on Wednesday became the first Chinese airline to offer such service initially for domestic flights, even for tickets that are booked through online agencies.

The Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission had issued a warning to several online agencies in 2016 after they were found offering non-existent discounts, charging high service fees as well as denying refunds on flight cancellation.

China Southern will refund passengers in case of flight cancellations in advance and charge the agencies later to prevent such scams, said Wu Tao, an official with the e-commerce department of the airline.

Shanghai-based Juneyao Airlines has also announced it will offer similar service to its customers.

Under the new service, passengers can reschedule or get a refund through the airline's mobile phone application or WeChat account without heading to service counters at airports or calling its hotlines, the Guangzhou-based carrier said.

It promised that passengers will receive the refund money within two hours after applying through the airline's electronic platforms.

Ti Gong

A passenger boards a China Southern Airlines flight using the face recognition system at Nanyang airport in Jiangsu Province on Wednesday.

The self-service for rescheduling and refunds will be available for some of the airline's international flights from later this year, Wu revealed.

Passengers will also able to check the most updated flight information through China Southern's App or WeChat account as the airline also announced it will share information from its operation control center with passengers in real time.

The functions announced yesterday are part of an e-travel service officially unveiled by the carrier, which allows passengers to use mobile phone throughout their trip.

Domestic airlines have been striving to offer such electronic services to passengers in which they are able to use mobile phones to book tickets, select seats and check in.

"It will become an industry trend to offer more self-service and bespoke experiences to passengers," said Huang Wenqiang, senior vice president of China Southern's electronic division.

Passengers have to wait for at least six minutes to pick up a boarding pass from the airline's counters, but only need several seconds to finish check-in on mobile phone, Huang added.

China Southern, Asia's largest carrier in terms of fleet size, has plans to become the world's most dynamic airline on the internet. Its official WeChat account has attracted more than 20 million followers and it draws 800,000 passengers daily. Its app has been downloaded 30-plus million times.

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