The iPhone 6 Plus has gone from flying off store shelves to flying in the sky.
United Airlines plans to provide 23,000 of its flight attendants with the oversized smartphone starting next spring. The iPhone 6 Plus will be used for onboard payment transactions, accessing company email, downloading UA’s manuals and reporting in-flight issues or aircraft repairs.
The iPhone 6 Plus hit the market in September and is the first Apple handset of its size, with a large 5.5″ screen vs. the standard iPhone 6’s 4.7″ display. The broader screen facilitates easy viewing and touch functions for the flight attendants who are using it.
Down the road (or should we say, runway?) United intends to develop more customer-oriented applications for the 6 Plus. That will not include asking your flight attendant to check how many “likes” there are on your latest Instagram travel photo.
This is not the first Apple product United Airlines has picked for its in-flight service. In 2011, the iPad was introduced as part of its paperless initiative and recently upgraded to the iPad Air 2 (an appropriate name in this context.)
United also has an app available on the iTunes store for download, which enables customers to book flights, check in and find out flight status, among other tasks.
Other airlines like British Airways have also included iPads to improve the customer service experience. Delta Airlines provided 11,000 of its pilots with Microsoft Surface 2 tablets while 19,000 of its flight attendants use Windows handsets for onboard payments. Virgin Atlantic UK could rank as the most tech-savvy with providing Google Glass to many of its employees, in order to access flight and passenger details.
The future of flight is upon us. Or in some cases, upon airplane smartphones and tablets.