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.
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.”
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.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.