Departing on a flight from Sydney Airport, or on pick-up duty? You can now request flight updates via Facebook Messenger while on the move.
It’s done by visiting the ‘flySYD’ Facebook page and sending through a private message containing your own flight number, or the flight number you’ll be greeting, to be kept abreast of its progress.
For example, passengers on Qantas flight QF427 from Sydney to Melbourne could send a message of "QF427", to which a bot replies with the latest information (and a promotion for ways you could spend money in the terminal before boarding):
Similarly, those awaiting an arriving flight can send through the flight number of interest in much the same way:
Gate information doesn’t appear to always be correct, though – many flights we tested were showing ‘T3G’ instead of an actual gate number – and given you can typically see this when keying a flight number into Google (or on screens at the airport), it’s pretty daft that the airport itself can’t provide this same information with accuracy:
In fact, the flight departure times provided via Facebook Messenger don’t appear to be ‘live’ either. When QF427 was bumped back by 15 minutes, both Google and the Qantas website displayed the revised departure time of 11:15am…
… yet the Sydney Airport bot continued to show 11am – even when sending through the flight number again to trigger a new message from the page after the original departure time had passed:
What’s more, another flight that we’d asked Sydney Airport’s bot to monitor – QF520 from Sydney to Brisbane – had completed boarding and was taxiing to the runway for take-off (shown here from FlightRadar24), without so much as an update from the bot, which still showed the flight as ‘scheduled’.
Given that the accuracy of both departure times and gate information provided by the bot is questionable – two key pieces of information that travellers need for their journey – we can’t see this removing the need to monitor the information screens and announcements in the terminal, lest you miss your flight.
Sydney Airport also offers a similar flight information service via Twitter, operated using the same bot technology as with Facebook Messenger.