Samsung Mobile has sealed an agreement with AA that will see 6,000 of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablets replace current personal in-flight screens on selected transcontinental and international flights from later this year. With passengers now being provided with tablet computers and cabin staff on some airlines also using them on the job, it only leaves the pilots - and they're set to join the tablet party in the not too distant future as well.
American Airlines will provide Galaxy Tab 10.1 devices exclusively to Premium Class passengers, so unfortunately there's no love for those in cattle class. Those who have paid a little bit more for flight tickets, however, will enjoy a customized version of Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. There are no specifics on those modifications yet, apart from "expanded memory," however, a custom UI for accessing an onboard library of multimedia is practically a given.
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While AA is claiming the title as the first air carrier to offer a tablet as an in-flight entertainment device for passengers, Virgin's cabin crew have been using tablet computers to take food and beverage orders for a few years now. But tablets look like becoming much more widespread. Following a successful trial last year that saw iPads rented to passengers for AUD$10 (approx US$10.60), Australian budget carrier Jetstar had planned an official launch for such a service by Christmas 2010. That date has now been pushed back a number of times but indications are the service will now be rolled out as the airline takes receipt of new aircraft from 2011 to 2015.
And tablets could also be making their way into aircraft cockpits. In February this year the Federal Aviation Administration gave its approval to charter airline service Executive Jet Management for in-cockpit use of iPads - not for playing Angry Birds, or Flight Control, but for pre- and in-flight course charting. Following the announcement, larger commercial airlines, such as Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines are now looking to adopt Apple's iPad for in-cockpit use as well.