If you’re flying American and don’t speak English, fear no more.
American Airlines is the first airline to use the Google Assistant’s interpreter mode in its airport lounges after beginning to test the technology last week at Admirals Club lounges in Los Angeles International Airport.
The Silicon Valley company and Texas-based airline announced the partnership earlier this week at CES 2020 in Las Vegas.
The service, which translates speech in real time and then reads back the translated version via a Google Nest Hub, will help the airline’s customer service representatives provide a more personalized service to foreign language-speaking customers.
To start, the service will be used to assist customers only when a multilingual team member isn’t working. Google Assistant can translate 29 languages, including Arabic, French, German, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese.
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“The science fiction universal translator is now science fact,” said Maya Leibman, American’s Chief Information Officer. “Incorporating technology like the Google Assistant’s interpreter mode will help us break down barriers, provide a worry-free travel experience and make travel more accessible to all.”
Last month, Google began making the Google Assistant interpreter mode available on smartphones, giving travelers the ability to continue using the service outside of the airport on devices using Android and iOS.
According to American Airlines, Google Assistant is the latest in a list of new technology features the airline has recently added, including mobile passport scanning, boarding notifications, virtual 3D aircraft tours and a redesigned self-service kiosk.
In a February 2019 blog post, Google said it had been piloting interpreter mode in some U.S. hotels where the technology has been helping hotel staff and foreign guests interact with one another.
“Interpreter mode can help businesses better serve their guests through an improved customer experience,” wrote Google Assistant Senior Director of Product Management Lilian Rincon in that post. And this technology can be a helping hand wherever language barriers exist, including at hotels, airports, restaurants, customer service kiosks, organizations aiding humanitarian efforts and much more.”