Air New Zealand unveils Oscar the chatbot

Chatbot to help with passenger questions

Air New Zealand is the latest airline to introduce a chatbot to help with passenger questions.

Called Oscar, the bot will initially help passengers with commonly asked questions. As with other AI technology, Oscar will learn based on the conversations people have with him, hoping to become more user friendly and helpful the more he interacts.

The long term plan is that Oscar becomes a virtual assistant who can recognise individual passengers and help them across every stage of the journey.

The bot should eventually be able to inform passengers about their flights, make or change a booking, select seats, check them in and so on.

Oscar has initially been launched as a help chatbot to assist with queries about Air New Zealand Lounge, their frequent flier program (Airpoints) and baggage. The airline plans to integrate the bot with the Air New Zealand Mobile app, via both voice and text, and with other chat platforms and in-home digital assistants.

The chatbot has been launched as a beta product allowing passengers to play an active role in training him.

Avi Golan, Air New Zealand Chief Digital Officer:

“This is a new approach for us, getting Oscar out fast and in the early-development stages so that we can build and co-create with our customers. Given Oscar learns natural language it makes sense he learns directly from our customers the types of information they want to know and the language they use, rather than airline jargon.

“The world’s best digital companies foster a culture of customer-led design and collaboration and for the airline to meet its big digital ambitions we must embed this culture of thinking, acting and doing as leading digital companies do.”

Passengers with queries about Airpoints, baggage or Air New Zealand lounges are encouraged to put Oscar to the test.

He can be found in the Help & Contact section of the airline’s New Zealand website.

About Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand is the national airline of New Zealand and is based in Auckland.

Routes: Air New Zealand operates to 22 domestic and 29 international destinations in 16 countries around the Pacific rim (within New Zealand, Australia, the South West Pacific, Asia, North America) and the United Kingdom.

Fleet: Air New Zealand operates a fleet of 103 aircraft in total, with 33 more on order. The average age of the fleet is just over 7 years.

The fleet is a mixture of Airbus, Boeing, Aerospatiale and Bombardier.

  • 29 Airbus A320 (1 more on order)
  • 3 Boeing 767-300ER
  • 7 Boeing 777-200ER
  • 8 Boeing 777-300ER
  • 7 Boeing 787-9 (5 more on order)
  • 13 Airbus A320/A321 NEO (13 on order)
  • 26 Aerospatiale ATR 72 (14 more on order)
  • 23 Bombardier Q300

The Boeings operate the long haul routes, the others are for domestic and short haul.

Numbers: About 14 million passengers a year.

Alliance: StarAlliance

Image credit: Air New Zealand

Internet links

Air New Zealand (NZ)