Why Flight Attendants Will Stalk You With Tablets

American Airlines will issue tablets to all 17,000 flight attendants at the airline. And the goal is to enhance the customer experience.

Samsung Galaxy 10.1 Note Tablet
Source: Samsung
Samsung Galaxy 10.1 Note Tablet

Beginning later this year, flight attendants will use Samsung Galaxy Note tablets onboard to record customer preferences, identify high-value passengers and to provide assistance amid delays.

A pilot program was conducted earlier this year and the Samsung device was selected for its features including a thin, portable design and wide-screen readability, American said.

"This is a huge step towards a new, modern American Airlines, as our tablet program is the first of its kind in the airline industry, where our flight attendants will have the most up-to-date customer information in the palms of their hands, allowing them to better serve our customers from boarding to deplaning," says Lauri Curtis, American's vice president—flight service, in a release.

Specifically, American's flight attendants will use the device to:

  • Access customer information such as name, seat number and loyalty program status in a seat map view and customer list view;
  • Record meal and beverage preferences for premium class customers;
  • Easily identify high-value customers seated in the premium cabins and in the main cabin, as well as passengers requiring special assistance; and
  • Provide connecting gate, flight delay and weather information.

Pending approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, real-time data will automatically be updated when Wi-Fi is available on the aircraft. By the end of the year, 91 percent of American's domestic fleet will be Wi-Fi enabled, according to American's website.

Tablets growing in popularity

While not used specifically to track customer preferences, both American and United Airlines have issued Apple iPads to pilots to store flight manuals. And American plans to issue Samsung devices to flight attendants, also to store manuals. United's parent is United Continental Holdings .

There's no word yet if other large U.S. airlines, such as Delta and US Airways , will follow.