You can imagine my surprise and, candidly, delight, on a recent overseas flight that held a particularly tight connection at its terminus. As we began the initial descent into London, a flight attendant approached, iPad in hand, and informed me in impeccable, proper Queen’s English, “Pardon me, Mr. Brisbourne. We can see you’ll have but 15 minutes to make your way to Terminal 2 for your connection to Barcelona. Once we’ve completed our taxi, I’ll be here to escort you and a few others as quickly as possible, ahead of the crowd. Just please be ready to rise and join me when the seatbelt sign dims.”
The event was striking, not merely in the departure it took from the standard, overhead announcement of connecting flights’ gates – (yet leaving it to each passenger’s own devices to navigate the cattle call at exit) – but also in the fact that a tablet computer seemed to be the enabling mechanism. And indeed it was.
While more and more cabin attendants may seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time looking down at their personal devices, these tablets are in fact airline-issued, and are the employees’ access point to all kinds of service-enhancing data, from this passenger who has a birthday today, to that one who has a complimentary drink coming.