The Battle of the Apps final: “And the winner is…”

by | Oct 6, 2023 | Airlines, Digital Transformation, News, Travel Tech

The World Aviation Festival concluded with the Battle of the Apps final and this year’s competition went right down to the wire. With only standing room left in the audience and a stage filled with VIP judges, United Airlines was crowned the 2023 winner.

Encapsulating the event’s focus on passenger-centric, digital innovation, the Battle of the Apps sought out which airline app delivers the most seamless, frictionless, and simple experience for its customers. Oisin Lunny chaired the session, guiding the six finalists through their five minute presentations and rounds of tough questioning from our judges.


The finalists:
      • Turkish Airlines – Represented by Murat Sahin, Manager, Online Product Development.
      • Emirates – Represented by Chris Gale, Product App and Mobile.
      • Lufthansa Group – Represented by Christian Spann, Head of Product Community.
      • Air France-KLM – Represented by Bertille Bourrel, Chief Product Officer.
      • United Airlines – Represented by Grant Milstead, VP Digital Technology.
      • Qatar Airways – Represented by Christophe Guittard, SVP Digital Commercial.
Expert judges:
          • Henry Harteveldt – President, Atmosphere Research Group.
          • Ben Mutzabaugh – Senior Aviation Editor, The Points Guy.
          • Ann Cederhall – Consultant, LeapShift.
          • Seth Miller – Editor, PaxExAero.

The finalists highlighted multiple standout features of their respective apps, revealing a nuanced understanding of passengers’ expectations and an ability to meet these effectively. The airlines were assessed on a broad range of criteria including the quality of their presentations, their ability to tell a compelling story, time management, and the illusive “X-factor.” Each presentation concluded with questions from the judges who did not hold back, carving out a “360 view” on the apps.

Although each airline proved themselves worthy of their place in the final, United Airlines emerged as the unanimous winner, distinguishing itself with an outstanding presentation and excelling in the rigorous behind the scenes testing of the app. Grant Milstead, VP Digital Technology, proudly accepted the award on behalf of United Airlines.


Grant Milstead, VP Digital Technology, United accepting the trophy on behalf of the airline’s app


In his presentation, Grant explained “the United app is not important, it is not critical, it is essential to our customers’ experience.” The app enables easy planning for trips, convenient seat and flight change, and endless inflight entertainment options. It also puts passengers’ ease front and centre with a guide to help terminal navigation and the option to text, video chat, or call an agent with any queries. Passengers with iPhones also have quick access to flight tracking information featuring a countdown to departure time, visible on the Lock Screen for added convenience.

As this year’s victors, United set a new standard for passenger-centric digital innovation, reaffirming their commitment to enhancing the travel experience for their customers.