British Airways testing iPads to enhance passenger experience

British Airways testing iPads to enhance passenger experience

Travelers who purchase first class tickets and business class airfares for flights aboard British Airways may pack an iPad in their carry-on bags. However, these passengers may not be the only ones using these portable devices, as cabin crew are currently testing the popular tablet computers.

According to officials from British Airways, 100 cabin crew members are currently using the iPads, with senior staff to start using the devices in the months ahead. The airline decided to use the tablets during flights in order to deliver a new level of customer service to passengers.

On most aircraft, cabin crew are given a long scroll of paper that lists up to 337 passengers. The iPad provides a more efficient solution to this process, as crew members just have to refresh their tablet to receive updated information on each of the plane's customers. The data contained on these devices also allow crew members to brush up on the travel arrangements and preferences of those they will be serving as they fly to their destination.

For instance, if travelers with business class tickets have made special meal requests, the information will appear on the iPad. Crew can also access customer service updates, timetables and safety manuals midflight as long as they have their device handy. Furthermore, the tablets make it easy for crew members to communicate with airline officials on the ground.

Bill Francis, the head of inflight customer experience for British Airways, said that the airline has been receiving great feedback from both customers and the cabin crew.

"The iPad is already allowing us to offer a more personalised onboard service, but the possibilities for future development are endless," Francis said. "It allows the crew to offer the thoughtful service they want to deliver and customers are treated as valued guests."

British Airways is not the only airline to bring iPads onboard, as United Continental Holdings recently announced that pilots on all United and Continental flights would receive the devices in the place of flight decks.

A total of 11,000 iPads will be given to pilots so that they can use electronic flight bags in the place of paper flight manuals. The transition began in early August and is expected to be complete before 2012.

By Arnold Meyer

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