Emirates is to roll out new HP tablets to the 900-odd pursers across its network, for use as a customer service tool and to help identify and report on cabin crew members.
The carrier has signed an agreement to be the global launch customer of the HP ElitePad 900 business tablet, which officially launches in January and features the new Windows 8 interface.
The tablets will run KIS (Knowledge Driven Inflight Service) - a bespoke app designed and created by Emirates to help deliver "extraordinary customer service and experiences".
Similar to the iPad initiative launched by British Airways last year (see online news November 9, 2011), the tablets will allow pursers to identify passengers, check meal preferences, carry out in-seat passenger upgrades using Skywards Miles, and record in-flight feedback.
Pursers will also be able to bring up details of cabin crew members on their flights, check which languages are spoken, and input crew reports.
Kevin Griffiths, senior vice president, cabin crew at Emirates, was keen to stress that the carrier has operated the KIS application since 2004, but that recent developments in tablet technology had allowed the airline to upgrade the service to a more portable device, enabling staff to take the tablets to the individual customer's seat.
Griffiths said that among the uses of the new tablets would be the ability to inform Skywards members of miles that were close to expiring, and alerting passengers when emails were bouncing back.
Emirates will equip 100 of its pursers with the new tablets during December, with the rest being rolled out over the first four months of 2013.
Although the carrier now offers wifi internet connectivity on some services, Griffiths said the tablets would not initially be used to connect in-flight. Instead data will be downloaded onto the devices from three hours before departure, with any information recorded during the flight being automatically sent to Emirates' headquarters upon landing.
Griffith's also said the carrier would not go down the line of identifying passengers through images available on the internet, something British Airways has been trying as part of its 'Know Me' initiative (see online news July 2).
"We won't go beyond what our customers feel comfortable with," said Griffiths, adding that customer trust was key to the service being a success.
For more information visit emirates.com.
Report by Mark Caswell