American Airlines Puts mCommerce in Attending Hands, Experiences Mild Turbulence

May 16, 2013

Leave it to mobile commerce to bring network ready mobile devices to the skies. Ever since the days of the Nintendo GameBoy, flyers have been looking to bring their own forms of electronic entertainment have been encountering an annoying resistance of technology. Innovations of inflight entertainment aside, flying has not been very technology friendly. The demand for mobile commerce solutions is coming from the demand of consumers.

It looks like American Airlines is ready to make the commitment to mobile tech on planes, but are they going about it properly? Having made the news months ago when it issued over 16,000 tablets to its flight attendants, flyers with the airline have been experiencing first class meal service transactions by way of Samsung Galaxy devices.

Image Via Tabtimes

It isn’t surprising that American Airlines specifically is the one providing this mobile service to customers, as every attendant has been given a tablet to use, but the ubiquity of the technology is. On a flight to Dallas aboard a 757 belonging to American Airlines, Chuck Martin, editor of mCommerce Daily over at MediaPost, was served via an attendant operating an Android POS app and he was on one of the few models of plane the airline owns that isn’t outfitted with Wi-Fi.

The motion of mobile commerce to the skies has come as satellite connections are promising to make getting online in flight even easier than it already is for American Airlines customers on the other 90 percent of the company’s aircraft outfitted with Wi-Fi. Technology making commerce more efficient and accessible in the skies is not only welcome, but has been long awaited.

Not everyone is on board with in flight sales over their company provided tablets, however. Use of the tablet system on Martin’s flight was optional, with his server telling him that some attendants still opt for pen and paper order-taking methods.

Therein lies the true problem with bringing any kind of technology into a space that has so staunchly resisted it for so long. Proper training must be provided for all employees using the devices and mobile service needs to be complete if customers are to really benefit from mobile commerce. Placing the owness in an employee’s hands without enforcement takes power out of the consumer’s control over how they want to interact with their purchase. Mobile commerce should give consumers more accessibility options, not fewer. Perhaps the implementation would be better served through a BYOD policy if flight attendants are reluctant to use their Galaxy.

Edited by Ashley Caputo

Comments powered by