American Airlines to Offer Samsung Tablets for In-flight Entertainment

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For those who identify a bit too much with George Clooney's character from the frequent-flyer flick "Up in the Air," here's some good news. If your loyalties, like Ryan Bingham's, are with American Airlines, there's another perk coming your way.

Along with the lounge access, extra legroom and free drinks, American Airlines and Samsung Mobile have partnered to offer 6000 Galaxy Tab Android tablets for in-flight use in its first class and business cabins.

Those breathing the rarified air of the front of the plane will have a shot at playing with a 10-inch Galaxy Tab on select transcontinental and intercontinental flights on American's 757 and 767 planes. Some of those same planes are among American's fleet equipped with in-flight Wi-Fi, meaning that as long as the browser is enabled on the devices, lucky testers will be able to surf the Internet from 36,000 feet--presumably to Google. "Why is my luggage in St. Louis if I'm flying to San Francisco?"

In a press release, the carrier says Samsung will "customize the Galaxy Tab for American's in-flight entertainment needs, including the addition of expanded memory," suggesting that the airline plans to preload the tablets with a variety of HD video.

American Airlines to Offer Samsung Tablets for In-flight Entertainment
This seems like a win-win-win situation. For the airline, it's a way to differentiate its premium services on something other than price.

For Samsung, it's a way to build a little awareness and branding around the Galaxy in a market where "iPad" and "tablet" are almost synonyms. It's also a way of positioning the Galaxy as a premium device through its association with business and first class flying, giving it a chance to compete with the iPad at its own game (and price point) rather than resorting to drastic price cuts to compete with the market leader.

And, for the traveler? Well, ask any frequent business traveler, and they'll likely tell you that anything that makes a transcontinental or intercontinental flight a little more bearable is a win.

This isn't the first foray of the tablet computer into the world of commercial air travel. Along with becoming nearly ubiquitous among passengers, tablets have also been offered as a for-rent device by Australian low-cost carrier Jetstar beginning last year. Meanwhile, the iPad has been given a seat in the cockpit by Alaska Airlines, which recently dumped paper-based flight manuals in favor of the tablets.

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At a Glance
  • With a few software tweaks and an appealing price, Samsung’s Wi-Fi-only Galaxy Tab should appeal to anyone who wants a 7-inch Android tablet with no pesky service contracts attached.


    • Brilliant, bright screen
    • Manageable size is conducive for one-handed use


    • Screen doesn't support high-definition video
    • Proprietary connection port
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