United Airlines continues to hand out high-tech devices to its in-flight staff, in hopes of making their jobs easier. The airline was one of the first to bring iPads into the cockpit to replace pilots’ paper-based navigational charts and other heavy flight materials. Now, it’s handing out iPhone 6 Plus handsets to its flight attendants and customer service representatives to eliminate the need for safety manuals and better help them assist customers.
Updated on 12-01-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added news that United will give 6,000 customer service representatives iPhone 6 Plus units.
The program began with flight attendants, but United revealed it will expand the program to 6,000 customer service representatives. That way, United reps can help customers print boarding passes and baggage tags at the airport. The iPhones will also bring up alternate flight options, so that reps can assist fliers on the go.
Related: Read our iPhone 6 Plus review
In the future, the airline aims to make the full check-in process possible on its employees’ iPhone 6 Plus, so that when kiosks are full and there are long lines, harried fliers can check in quickly with United representatives.
The expansion of the program comes after an earlier move to bring the device to 23,000 flight attendants in 2015. Needless to say, the venture was a success. As soon as the flight attendants had the iPhone 6 Plus in hand, they were able to handle most transactions with the device, making it easier for customers to make in-flight purchases. They’re also able to access company email, United’s website, and the company’s Intranet. Policies and procedures manuals are even available for viewing on the phablet’s large screen.
“We are thrilled to make this investment in our flight attendants,” Sam Risoli, United’s senior vice president of in-flight services said in a statement. “iPhone 6 Plus will enable them to deliver an even higher level of flyer-friendly service and will offer our flight attendants simple, one-touch access to valuable work information, enabling them to better serve our customers.”
In the future, United aims to replace its flight attendants’ printed safety manual, and even provide real-time reports on conditions. In-flight staff will also be able to check on aircraft cabin issues and repairs, to keep passengers better informed. United is currently working on more consumer-focused applications for the devices, as well.
In addition to the new iPhones, United plans to renew its contract with Apple and replace the old iPads with new iPad Air 2 tablets in the near future.