By Michael Malpass
American Airlines plans to provide each of its flight attendants with the new phone-tablet hybrid, 5-inch Galaxy Note, in order to improve its customer relations. The mobile devices would give flight attendants access to data such as the names and seat numbers of those on-board, any requests for special services, the customers’ itineraries, and also each customer’s status within American Airline’s multi-tiered customer loyalty program. The airline is testing the new mobile system by providing 40 of its 10,000 flight attendants with Android-based Samsung tablets.
Out of the eight airlines rated by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, American Airlines rates fourth, only behind United, Continental, and Northwest Airlines. Providing each flight attendant with a tablet, which he or she can tap and scroll through to retrieve customer information, is meant to improve the airline’s satisfaction rating by making the flight experience feel more customized to each individual customer. Last year American Airlines filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to relieve itself of heavy debt. American was the last airline in the United States to file for chapter 11, leaving it less flexible, analysts said, than many of its competitors.
American Airlines’ new mobile system has been in testing since early spring. While it is not yet clear whether the tablet-laden flight attendants are improving customer satisfaction, they have accelerated pre-flight activities, leading to more on-time departures. With everything else being equal, that itself should make customers happier.
According to CIO, American Airlines is undergoing a mobile revolution. Mechanics already have mobile devices that allow them to report maintenance issues to on-board flight crew remotely. On-board flight crew can report on-board maintenance issues remotely as well. This appears to be a major step up for an airline that remains one of the oldest and least fuel-efficient fleets in the United States, the average vintage of one of its aircrafts being 15 years. Last year American Airlines announced a $38 billion order for 460 new single-aisled planes from Boeing and Airbus.
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