Expect to see more flight attendants wielding tablets in the near future. JetBlue announced last week that they will equip their crews with iPad mini devices to help with a variety of tasks. The devices are being introduced with flight attendants working on the carrier’s premium Mint service flight initially; all crew are expected to have a device by April 2015. The tablets will include a custom In-Flight Service Assistant app which will offer access to passenger manifests and other customer details. The device will also handle in-flight sales and includes a translation app to help accommodate passengers who don’t speak English.
JetBlue’s use of tablets is not limited only to customer-facing activities. That is the first phase but the company has much broader plans for the devices. By the end of 2015 it is expected that the iPads will offer access to crew scheduling & transportation details, service manuals and other “back office” requirements. The carrier is also considering options such as limited access to historical passenger actions such as on-board purchases. Allowing the flight attendant to not only say “Welcome back” rather than just “Welcome on board” is a small nod towards enhancing the passenger experience. Add in the fact that JetBlue is rapidly deploying their Fly-Fi in-flight internet product and it is easy to see how the new iPads could be used to help with providing up-to-date connecting flight information and other useful information as well.
Allowing the flight attendants to see a regular food or drink order pattern and offer that up again as well can make a customer feel more at home on board. Or it could be a little creepy. I often like that I’m a “regular” at a couple places and the staff knows what I like. But that’s rare on a plane. It will be interesting to see how customers react should such a service level develop. Offering a Mosaic member a complimentary beverage because their status shows on the manifest is different from offering them their usual drink simply because they’re on board.
JetBlue is not the only carrier with tablet news; Virgin America is updating the tablets they have on board for Flight Attendants as well. The new Nexus 7 tablets – nicknamed CrewPad – are smaller and lighter than the Motion LE 1600 tablets they are replacing. No details on what additional features or software is being included with the devices other than handling the onboard food ordering services like the old version, though the carrier does say that “the tablets will give us a great foundation for the future, with the ability to constantly enhance the software and make the service even more personalized for our guests.” So perhaps they have similar ideas, though less in the way of solid plans.
Are you a fan of the more personal service? Even if it means they’re tracking your behavior just a bit more than before??
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