Big new United Airlines carry-on item: iPhone 6 Plus phablets for 23,000 flight attendants

Apple iPhone 6 Plus smartphone to streamline safety, retail tasks in flight

United Airlines flight attendant with iPhone 6 plus
United Airlines

United Airlines this week announced that its flight attendants will soon be equipped with Apple's iPhone 6 Plus phablets to take care of your safety, food and entertainment needs.

Yes, they'll now be wielding phones almost bigger than the maximum-size for carry-on items (I exaggerate).

More than 23,000 mainline flight attendants will start getting the smartphone with the 5.5-inch screen during the second quarter of 2015.

FIRST LOOK: Apple and IBM's new enterprise apps for iOS 

Employees will be able to use the iPhone 6 plus to handle most onboard retail transactions as well as access email, the company intranet as well as policy manuals.

Down the road, the smartphones will gain capabilities related to improving on follow-up of aircraft cabin issues and repairs. 

The customer win for Apple could be a sign of more to come on the enterprise front, where it has been bolstering its sales team and partnering with companies like IBM.

United isn't the first big airline to arm in-flight personnel with smartphones: Delta in 2013 said it was giving 19,000 flight attendants Windows Phones. American Airlines has been doling out Samsung Galaxy Notes to its flight attendants since 2013.

Of course, some flight attendants might not be thrilled with their new toys. The Association of Flight Attendants union earlier this year filed suit against the Federal Aviation Administration in an effort to get the agency to reverse its loosening of rules for smartphone use during take-offs and landings.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Now read: Getting grounded in IoT