Lufthansa brings Mildred to the chat table

Lufthansa is the latest to join the chatbot rush with its Mildred assistant on Facebook Messenger.

The chatbot enables users to search for flights over the next nine months and claims to find the cheapest flights.

Users can search by date and booking class as well as include details such as airports or home city and the idea is that Mildred knows the nearest airport Lufthansa flies from.

Travellers are then redirected to the Lufthansa mobile website to make a booking.

The airline says Mildred uses natural language processing, via, to understand English and German and recognise place names and dates. The bot also links to a database for the nearest airport Lufthansa flies from and uses Google geolocation database to recognise tourist attractions and other place names.

Mildred is in beta with Lufthansa using a test and learn strategy for the service as users use different terminology to make flight queries as well as combine words differently.

The Frankfurt-based airline’s initiative joins KLM’s development with Facebook Messenger and Icelandair’s work with Travelaer to provide a bookable bot on Messenger.

Lufthansa Group-owned Austrian Airlines is also trialling a myAustrian Messenger service for flight search and customer queries.

Brand chatbots and wider messaging services have been the subject for many a conference panel in recent weeks.

At the ACTE/CAPA event in Amsterdam in October, KLM CEO Pieter Elbers talked of how the carrier is developing for various chat channels as part of its strategy to be where its customers are.

At the same event, Skyscanner commercial chief Frank Skivington said KLM’s developments were refreshing but that most major airlines don’t have a mobile app or even a mobile optimised website.

Meanwhile, at World Travel Market in London this week, Tnooz co-founder and senior editor Kevin May talked about how chatbots and AI could be a disruptive force when it comes to customer service in travel.

At a later session, John Newbold of design experience firm 383 highlighted that travel companies need to cut through the hype surrounding chatbots and really look at the use cases and the user experience.

Related reading:

A reality check for airlines and the direct channel

Chat is where it’s at for KLM as it finds customers on new platforms

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