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Is Facebook Taking Over Airline Ticketing?

SmarterTravel

The more Facebook swallows up entire businesses (read: Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus VR) and expands its own capabilities, the more it seems like the social media giant truly wants to take over the world. And in an age when smartphone apps that serve just one function rarely survive, Facebook’s messaging app appears to be stepping into yet another realm: travel.

After Facebook launched Messenger to shaky reception in 2011, it hired former PayPal president David Marcus in 2014 to transform the app. Messenger has already added features that allow users to make Wi-Fi calls, pay friends whom they owe money a la Venmo, request an Uber or Lyft, shop online, and track shipments.

Its latest play is to bring passengers boarding passes and flight updates.

We’ve heard about Facebook profiles somehow serving as identification for flyers who’ve lost or left behind their government-issued ID—however alarming that may be. But a new partnership with a Dutch airline marks Messenger’s first air travel partnership.

Netherlands-based KLM recently began allowing customers to opt into Messenger assistance for their boarding passes, flight delays, seat changes, etc., instead of receiving standard email updates. The below video shows how Messenger allows flyers to make requests and ask questions directly through the app as if the airline were a personal assistant—basically a customer service agent at your fingertips.

KLM isn’t the first company to do this—retail shoppers can track items they’ve bought online with some businesses. I recently used the service to get updates on a clothing shipment from Everlane, and found it helpful to get automatic updates throughout the process rather than go looking for them once I became curious about their whereabouts. Getting Messenger updates cuts out the need to go looking for information because it’s sent to you as it becomes available.

If the hiring of PayPal exec David Marcus tells you anything about Facebook’s intentions, it’s that Facebook is aiming to assist you with all your online purchasing—travel tickets now included. Marcus recently told TIME that Messenger will “look a whole lot different” by next year.

I’m betting travel ticketing is part of it.

More from SmarterTravel:

Associate Editor Shannon McMahon writes about all things travel. Follow her on Twitter @shanmcmahon_.

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