Delta Will Give All Flight Attendants iPhone 12s

Filed Under: Delta

Delta is making an interesting investment in technology…

Delta flight attendants getting 5G-equipped iPhone 12s

Delta has announced that it will upgrade the mobile devices that flight attendants have, from the existing SkyPro tablets. Starting in late summer, all Delta flight attendants will have an Apple iPhone 12 with AT&T 5G connectivity. While Delta isn’t the first airline to give flight attendants iPhones, the airline is promoting that it’s the first 5G-equipped global airline.

This is part of a new collaboration with Apple and AT&T, and is intended to make the jobs of flight attendants easier, and pave the way for more meaningful customer interactions.

As Delta’s SVP of Inflight Service, Allison Ausband, describes this development:

“Our flight attendants are the finest professionals taking to the skies day in and day out, so when we were looking for outstanding products that meet the Delta standard, Apple and AT&T were top of mind. This relationship is a step toward the future of a more connected and human onboard experience.”

As Delta views it, this is intended to deliver a seamless augmented reality experience to empower flight attendants with in-the-moment information to assist with:

  • Training: with policies frequently shifting due to the pandemic, flight attendants will have increased access to immersive training, including videos, photos, and augmented reality
  • Catering: while currently paper-based, flight attendants will have up to the minute digital catering inventory and will be able to quickly locate items without opening a single door, by using the iPhone camera and augmented reality to visualize where items are stowed

My take on Delta’s iPhone investment

I guess this is cool, though I do have a few initial thoughts:

  • It’s great that the iPhones are 5G-equipped, but have you actually tried using data at airports? I feel like at many major airports you have speeds that make you long for the days of dial-up
  • I’m curious if Delta plans to use the iPhones to take meal & drink orders, given the reference to it replacing a paper-based system? Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I haven’t had good experiences with airlines where orders are taken on iPhones, as they’re typically just looking down at their phone and trying to push a bunch of buttons
  • Admittedly I’m pretty low tech, but am I the only one who feels like some of this stuff is unnecessarily high tech? Like, I don’t usually see flight attendants having too much trouble figuring out where service items are, so using an iPhone camera and augmented reality to figure out where cups or ice are seems a bit… extra

Again, that’s just my take as a fairly low tech guy, but I’d love to hear what you guys think.

Bottom line

By late summer, all Delta flight attendants will be given a 5G-equipped iPhone 12, thanks to a new collaboration with Apple and AT&T. I suppose this is a cool development, though I also question how necessary this really is, and if it will actually improve the passenger experience.

What’s your take on Delta’s iPhone investment?

  1. “because flight attendants basically just stare at their screen and push buttons, and it seems much less personable”

    It really depends on what crew you encounter. You can have flight attendants just staring at their papers while taking your order (I’ve seen too many), or you may be served by someone who uses the phone but is also active about making eye contact with you.

  2. Delta also uses Apple for their text messaging chat support which I quite like. It can take a while to get an initial response depending on the time of day, but it’s cool how it shows up branded as Delta in iMessage and feels pretty seamless overall. Have gotten good support using that.

  3. Surely Delta, Apple & AT&T could have made a positive spin off this by donating the current devises to third world nations or mentioning that they would be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. Missed publicity, but what do I know!

  4. @ Alec… I’m sure it’s theirs and to take anywhere; but who uses their work phone as personal use? We’ve had iPhones @ United for the last 5 yrs or so… and the majority just use them while on duty; otherwise, the airline can track you… and it’s no one’s business what we do on the layover for that matter. 🙂

  5. Working in luxury retail, I can say with first hand experience that this will empower the crew to deliver a higher level of service.

    Just having visibility on catering inventory itself will free up the crew to engage with customers. Having access to information about a passenger’s journey and past preferences will also empower crews to deliver a truly personalised service.

    Given that brands today are desperately seeking different ways to create emotional value in the customer journey , I am surprised it’s taken them so long to implement this.

  6. What is the breakdown of usage of the phones on the ground versus airborne? I assume airborne they will use the same WiFi that is available to the pax. On the ground I would assume they will link to a separate network available only to employees (not public WiFi) or use carrier data. Also are the phone just running standard Apple OS with Delta apps or is the software built for Delta like Retail POS systems? I would like to see Delta develop an app for premium ticket/elite that can pass information to the FAs for on board service. What a great way to order meals, pre-flight drink, etc. When I rode Amtrak last month in a sleeper I received an email shortly after booking for my meal requests and any other special accommodations needed when I boarded.

  7. Employee may be thrilled to get new phones. but perhaps the REAL company benefits missing from the press release could include:

    -track if FAs are sitting in customer seats all flight or actually working (what times and how many times on a flight does each FA pass thru a beacon or Apple Tile in the cabin).

    -microphone could be used to track if they chat loudly during an overnight flights

    -camera could be used to ensure employee mask compliance

    -track arrival time at airport, or if flight crew is delaying a flight while in the Cinnabon line

  8. I saw somewhere Delta talking about an integrated coms system where everyone working on one flight can communicate using some groupware-type system.

    The bigger question is can the FAs put the phone down when they’re not on duty or is this extending the already kind of long unpaid workday?

  9. 1st. Delta FAs currently use iPhones as the on-board device. This will just be a bit of an upgrade.

    2. The devices primary function is to access the “on-board manual,” which houses emergency announcements, procedures and other operational things.

    3. Orders are already taken using devices and tap technology is being used to reduce touch points between passengers and FAs.

    4. The devices are also used to communicate with personnel on the ground whose job it is to support flight crews.

    5. Bottom line: this is non news.

  10. I think it’s a good thing as new iPhones will make employees happy (for awhile anyway). Happy employees usually means they will treat customers better. It will increase employee morale and I’m all for that.

  11. Well this is what happens when you give the airline 3.1 Billion dollars of taxpayer money oh correction 2.2 billion is a grant that if I’m not mistaken does not have to be paid back.We have now told Delta Employees they are above or immune from furlough or being laid off.Let’s buy iPhones for 22,000 Flight Attendants and let them stay at home on voluntary leaves accruing seniority with amazing healthcare with 12 year top out pay at $69.95 per flight hour.Meanwhile the poor sous chef at the hotel that makes $10.00 has been laid off because his hotel can’t get big grants/loans and has shut down.Now he/she is begging for rental assistance to not be evicted from his or her small ran down apartment. We should have let all these major airlines especially Delta file for bankruptcy like they had to after 9/11.Delta never cared when they decided to put lots of Regional airline people on the street Ie… Expressjet,Compass by cancelling regional airline contracts mean while hiring folks off the street to be flight attendants while telling the very same regional Flight Attendant “thanks but no thanks” you can fly our passengers around on smaller aircraft but you are not good enough for our big mainline jets. Shame on Delta for piggin out and getting in the wallet of Uncle Sam while the US taxpayer is left to not only pay for you being greedy but also still paying to Check 1 or 2 bags !!!!!!!!

  12. I fly Delta whenever I travel. I also have a pacemaker. I have been told the Apple 12 with 5G is not compatible with my pacemaker. How is Delta going to handle this.

  13. This is literally non-news. FAs have been using iPhones for the past 3 years to store, manage, and access FAA and company safety policies, customer and flight information, and onboard communication with the tower, gate agents, and catering. Bottom line: Before mobile technology, FAs used to carry around LOTS of paper in a binder, etc. Now, the iPhones are becoming slow and outdated and newer ones are needed. That’s all. Next up, an actual news story.

  14. @Ben. You said it yourself, YOU don’t see flight attendants struggling to find things. Then I would say Delta flight attendants are doing a good job at not showing their difficulties to passengers. Just because you don’t see something, doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

    In a galley, there are a lot more things beside cups, ice, and service items for passengers. Additionally, Delta has many aircraft in its fleet each with different configurations and galley set up. Having the augmented reality technology would tremendously help crews, especially those that do not typically fly a certain aircraft. I’m sure Delta would rather invest money in technology they think is going to improve customer satisfaction scores than to create new technology just because.

    I’m regards to getting new phones, I’m also pretty sure this is a corporate contract with language stating they have upgrade rights every time years or something. Or with the trade in value of the current phones, the new contract might cost the same as renewing the current one.

  15. Ok as Denise just stated Delta’s flight attendants currently use iPhone 8, not tablets. The upgrade is necessary because as technology advances the technology has more glitching. As the world moves to technology based it makes zero sense for fa’s to carry a big book of rules and a separate big book of announcements. That is more time taken away from the passenger.

    The major functions of the “phone” is actually mostly for customer purposes such as telling flight attendants helpful information as to what gate a passenger will be arriving into or which baggage claim to go to. Also as Denise mentioned it holds announcements that are required to be made for safety purposes. The PRIMARY function is the on board manual which is required to be on every flight attendant by the FAA. FA’s used to have to carry a large dictionary of a book on every trip and so this is the company’s way of looking out for flight attendants and insuring Everything that is needed is in one phone.

  16. @avid thank you. Flight attendants all over America appreciate you for clarifying all of this. Seriously.

    Most passengers do not know the 5000 things on a flight attendants mind or to do list because in the cabin we are smiling and happy and there for YOU.

    The truth of the matter is most passengers do NOT know how much the device we are holding helps us do our job more efficiently. The switch to technology has been 100 percent worth it and continued advancement of technology is necessary to maintain seamless service.

  17. Seems a bit overkill if you ask me… Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in for better technology and while I can appreciate how a 5G iPhone 12 could boost the morale of FAs, it just seems excessive given the tasks that they’re supposed to fulfil (what sort of things are FAs supposed to do on their iPhone 12 that an SE can’t do?). Doesn’t seem like a good move considering that they received over $5bn is government aid. The only reasonable explanation is (as mentioned above) that their old contract was up and they got some sort of killer deal from Apple/AT&T (more likely the latter)

  18. Another great marketing deal for Apple. Incredible way to increase revenue for the iphone and avoid slumping company sales figures of ipads. Great move for both companies. Delta gets technology that gives FA’s immediate information and Apple increases it sales figures. It’s a Celebration! For both.

  19. It really doesn’t matter if my galley inventory is stored on my device as a .pdf map (like it is now) or if it’s augmented reality. The galley is only as predictable as what the caterers give us.

    And for the record, the up to date .pdf galley maps are good enough, truly.

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