Smartphones Flying High: Delta Taps Nokia Lumia 820 for In-Flight Service

[This sponsored article was written by IDG Creative Lab, a partner of Qualcomm.]

The next time you fly Delta, don’t be surprised if a smartphone takes your drink order. The airline announced today that over 19,000 flight attendants will now carry Nokia Lumia 820 handsets for processing in-flight purchases.

Using a handset will make life simpler for hard-pressed flight attendants and the passengers they care for. Instead of writing down orders by hand and collecting cash or credit card numbers, flight attendants will simply enter orders on the smartphone screen, collect payment with a quick swipe of a credit or debit card across an attached reader, and email a receipt to the passenger.

Food and drinks aren’t the only items that can be purchased this way; upgrades to better seats qualify as well.  A planned update will let flight attendants scan coupons from flyers’ own mobile devices.

Also in the future, “Delta expects to provide flight attendants with certain customer-specific information to enable more personalized service.” In other words, your server might be able to look up past purchases and know that you prefer your martinis shaken, not stirred—or at least that you prefer martinis.

The smartphones will debut on Delta flights beginning today, and will appear on appear on Delta Connection flights starting Aug. 26.

The Lumia 820, which runs the Windows Phone 8 operating system, features a Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core processor, a 4.3-inch touchscreen, and 4G connectivity.

Interestingly, Delta notes that the handsets “will operate over Wi-Fi and AT&T's 4G LTE network,” though doesn’t specify whether the latter will be employed on flights that lack Wi-Fi service. (FAA regulations prohibit passengers from using their phones while airborne.)

The move comes as Windows Phone 8 struggles to compete with mobile-OS heavyweights Android and iOS. Although a recent IDC report shows that unit shipments increased nearly 78 percent in the past year, Windows Phone still holds only a 3.7-percent market share.

Welcome as the news must be to Microsoft, it doesn’t mean that Delta is going to standardize on the Windows Phone operating system. Delta continues to offer its Fly Delta app for Android, BlackBerry, and iOS devices. But it does exhibit corporate-level confidence in Windows Phone, which is no doubt cause for celebration in Redmond.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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