United brings the iPhone 6 Plus on board for 23,000 flight attendants

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Apple’s plan to invade workplaces across the country just got a boost from United Airlines, which is giving more than 23,000 flight attendants an iPhone 6 Plus to use in the air next year.

The attendants will use their new phones for three main purposes: Accepting payments for food and drink orders and other retail transactions, checking company email and accessing internal information about policies and procedures, and accessing an electronic version of the airline’s safety manual and reporting repair requests.

United is also working on ways that flight attendants can use the iPhone 6 Plus to improve customer service. Apple and IBM this week released two airline-specific apps , one of which is designed to give flight attendants access to passenger information, but it’s unclear if United will tap into those apps as part of its iPhone adoption.

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Apple and IBM's new app Passenger+ is designed to give flight attendants access to passenger information, but it's unclear if United plans to use it.

It’s also unclear if United will embrace Apple Pay as part of its iPhone adoption, letting you use your own iPhone to buy food or drinks, though the company would have to invest in NFC terminals. Perhaps the company could let you connect to Wi-Fi and use Apple Pay to order food in-app.

“We are thrilled to make this investment in our flight attendants,” United Senior Vice President Sam Risoli 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.”

United embraced iOS long ago—its pilots have used iPads since 2011, and the airline re-upped that program this month with a move to the iPad Air 2.

How else could airlines use iPhones and iPads to make flying a better experience? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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