Travellers can now use Google Assistant to confirm check-in times and baggage limits for Air New Zealand flights.

The carrier has become the first in Australasia to launch on the personal assistant system, which uses voice commands and can engage in two-way conversations. While the app is a Google product, it is not exclusively available on Android devices and those using Apple’s iOS systems, such as the iPhone, are also able to use it by installing a separate app. Android TVs and smart speakers such as Google Home (in Australia) can also support the system.

“Voice is a growing channel and therefore it’s important that we offer this as an option for customers to interact with us,” said Avi Golan, the airline’s chief digital officer. “We see voice as playing a particularly useful role on the day of travel, giving customers who may have their hands full with last-minute travel preparations, the ability to check travel information without having to manually look it up on a device.”

Air New Zealand has been exploring a number of new tech initiatives aimed at improving traveller experience and its service offerings, from adding passport scanning to its mobile app to the possibility of having cabin crew use augmented reality glasses to better serve customers during flights.

But the airline is far from the only one advancing its tech offerings. In September, fellow Star Alliance member United introduced check-in options using Amazon Alexa, a voice-activated digital assistant.

Meanwhile, carriers such as Finnair, KLM and, most recently, Singapore Airlines have launched chatbots through Facebook Messenger that allow travellers to get responses to travel-related queries from an artificial intelligence.

According to Golan, the airline’s Google Assistant app utilises the same technology that powers Air New Zealand’s own chatbot, Oscar, which it launched in February.

While currently limited to providing information on select queries, the Google Assistant app is planned to have its functionality expanded to include the ability to sign into the airline’s frequent-flyer programme Airpoints.