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American Airlines is testing Google Assistant’s interpreter mode for customer service

It’s been just exactly a year since Google introduced Google Assistant interpreter mode. The service allows you say something in one language and have it translated in another. That was at CES 2019. At CES 2020, American Airlines announced what could be a very practical application of the feature the airline is testing interpreter mode in airport lounges to help American Airlines employees better communicate with travelers who speak a different language.

According to American Airlines, its Premium Customer Service representatives will be able to use interpreter mode on Google Nest Hubs. However, the airline will only use interpreter mode when a multilingual employee isn’t available.

In addition, interpreter mode only works with 29 languages right now. A conversation between two fluent humans will probably still be the most efficient way to have a conversation. But interpreter mode could work in a pinch.

American Airlines says it rolled out interpreter mode last week in its three Admirals Club lounges at LAX. It’s not clear if or when the technology will be available at other American Airlines lounges.

“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.”

American Airlines offers customers 6,800 daily flights to more than 365 destinations in 61 countries from its hubs in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. American’s 130,000 global team members serve more than 200 million multilingual customers annually, reason for the implementation of this technology.

The Google Assistant is the latest in a long line of new technology enhancements American has introduced to make travel easier for customers. Other recent introductions include mobile passport scanning, boarding notifications, online virtual 3D aircraft tours, etc.

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