KLM to send CO2 offset payment requests to passengers via WhatsApp

KLM Boeing 737-700, PH-BGP at Schiphol Airport
KLM Boeing 737-700, PH-BGP at Schiphol AirportSaschaporsche / Wikimedia Commons

Dutch flag carrier airline KLM plans to send ticketed passengers a mobile payment request to offset their share of carbon-dioxide emissions. The airline said it will start the program as a test in 2020 using social media messaging platform WhatsApp to distribute the requests.

All money collected will be invested in a Panamanian reforestation project, the airline said.

A survey commissioned by the airline showed that 38.8 percent of travelers will pay compensation for their CO2 emissions next year. “To make it easier and quicker for passengers to do so, KLM is introducing a new quick mobile payment system in 2020,” the airline said in a statement.

So far, double the number of passengers who flew the airline in 2019 paid their emissions offset share, compared to 2018 data.

The airline also plans to roll out innovations in the areas of facial recognition, by allowing access to certain security checkpoints, lounge areas, and boarding lines after passengers have taken a selfie in the KLM APP on their phones. This optional feature will allow some passengers to skip the need to show their passports at specific locations.

“Queues will be shorter at the airport thanks to facial recognition technology,” the airline said based on its limited use earlier this year. “More and more passengers will encounter this technology in 2020 when new tests begin.”

The airline also plans to create more use cases for artificial intelligence as a means to dispatch crews and aircraft more efficiently during times of “unforeseen circumstances,” including weather changes.

KLM also said it was seeing some growth in the use of voice recognition apps and smart speakers to book air travel.

It further noted that Instagram is increasingly important to its customer base, with 65 percent of surveyed passengers saying the posts from their friends and family serve as inspiration for their own holidays. Nearly half also value the posts from strangers, while fewer than 15 percent find influencer posts to be of value.

At the same time, over roughly half of Gen Z and Millennial flyers think the degree their holiday photos will be “Instagrammable” is important, with a quarter saying it is practically mandatory.