The PJ Tatler

Airlines Slowly Switching From Paper To Tablets Because...IT'S THE 21st CENTURY

Financial incentives work.

American Airlines has won regulatory approval to swap flight attendants’ paper manuals for lighter Samsung tablets in a change that will save nearly $1 million a year, the company said on Wednesday.

The move, which does not yet affect attendants at American Airlines Group Inc’s (AAL.O) subsidiary US Airways, comes little more than a year after American’s cockpit went paperless, and is one of many strategies that airlines have pursued to reduce weight and fuel costs.

Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) and United Airlines (UAL.N) have also distributed smart devices to their pilots, and Delta plans to roll out an e-manual for flight attendants starting in October.

American said its attendants already have the tablets, and those at US Airways will receive them after the combined company receives a single operating certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration. The timing of that is uncertain.

Few technological advancements exemplify progress more than our ability to make journeys that used to take days, weeks or even months, in a matter of hours now. Yet even as the planes and the way we book travel have kept evolving, much of the airline industry has kept a lot of its business practices rooted in the 1960s, for a variety of reasons.

As someone who has been flying to work for a couple of decades, here is the change I would most like now: frequently travelers can take a test (annually, if need be) to prove that we understand the intricacies of the safety announcement, like how to use a seat belt buckle or recognize a door in a vehicle that doesn’t have many of them. Once we do, we’re given something that we can use to show the flight attendant that we have been cleared to listen to music during the announcements and spare ourselves one of the most tedious experiences known to modern man.

Sweet, sweet freedom.