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Why Are Cabin Crew Using Mobile Phones Onboard Emirates Flights?

Why Are Cabin Crew Using Mobile Phones Onboard Emirates Flights?

Why are cabin crew using mobile phones onboard Emirates flights. New Samsung Galazy A7 smartphones being introduced as meal ordering devices.

Emirates is famed for having one of the best Business Class experiences in the sky but small mistakes do sometimes happen.  And that one mistake can take the shine out of an entire journey, upsetting passengers that are a vital source of revenue for Emirates.

It now looks like that’s a risk that Emirates is unwilling to take.  And in an attempt to make the Business Class experience perfect, Emirates is taking its food and beverage operation high tech.

Cabin crew have recently been spotted using smartphones in the cabin but they’re not catching up on social media.  In fact, they’re using a new tool that Emirates hopes is going to enhance the Business Class experience.

“Providing our customers with the best onboard service has always been our top priority and we provide our cabin crew with the right tools, knowledge and information to do a world-class job.” said Terry Daly, Divisional Senior Vice President, Service Delivery at Emirates.

He continued: “We’ve introduced a new Meal Ordering Device (MOD) on board to give crew the info they need to deliver a more personal experience for our customers.”

All Business Class cabin crew have been issued a Samsung Galaxy A7 smartphone.  The phones have been set up as what the airline calls a ‘Meal Ordering Device’ with a bespoke app designed for the airline.  It was originally trialled on flights from Dubai to Paris in November 2016 and has now been rolled out on the following routes:

  • Dubai – Paris
  • Dubai – Mauritius
  • Dubai – Melbourne – Auckland

An Emirates spokesperson said that the new devices will be rolled out across the network in the next few months.

“We are progressively rolling the devices out.   Airbus 380 aircraft roll out will be completed by the end of April and Boeing 777 aircraft by the end of May.”

Here’s how it works:  The smartphones don’t have a SIM card and have been blocked from running any applications apart from the Meal Ordering app.  Cabin Crew connect their smartphone to a plug-and-play WiFi router which is separate from the onboard system that passengers use.  The smartphones don’t connect directly to the internet – so even in regions like India and China the meal ordering devices can still be used.

The new Emirates Business Class meal ordering device using a Samsung Galaxy A7
A Samsung A7 Galaxy Smartphone. Being used as a Meal Ordering Devices by Emirates.

All the phones are synced to communicate with one another for the duration of the flight – which in theory should create a seamless experience.  When the passenger sat in 10G requests his G&T, the order gets sent directly to a smartphone in a galley.  Within minutes the drink should be made and on the way back to the passenger.

Daly confirmed: “The orders are taken on a hand held device and are instantly reflected on a tablet in the galley. Each order is then prepared immediately making service faster, more efficient and more personal.”

The new Emirates Business Class meal ordering device - with passenger seat map
The bespoke Meal Ordering Device app details the Business Class cabin and comes loaded with the PNR information for the flight ahead.


More Information Available to Cabin Crew

Every combination of food and beverage has been accounted for.  And there’s plenty of options for customisation.  Even the fussiest of passengers will have no problem requesting their beverage just the way they like it.

To take account of passengers individual needs the phones are synced with Passenger Number Records (PNR) before take-off.  Along with the name and seat assignments for every passenger, the app can also tell crew about the status of the passenger, whether they were upgraded, their meal preferences and whether there are any ‘special’ notes about them.

Some Teething Problems Still Exist.

Cabin Crew have received a one-day, hands-on training course for the new devices but there are some teething problems still to be ironed out.  On some flights, the Meal Ordering Devices have not worked at all.  In other cases, orders have been lost in the system and there have been delays in orders being sent to the galley.

However, Daly is confident the new devices are the right way forward: “the Meal Ordering Device introduction which has been subject to a detailed development and implementation programme.”

He continued: “In terms of aircraft safety, as you would expect we make sure that anything we do is rigorously tested and meets all regulatory and safety requirements.”

However,  it looks like this innovation won’t be coming to either the Economy or First Class cabins anytime soon.

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