US low-cost carrier Allegiant Air is introducing an iPad-based payment system for passenger food and beverage purchases on board its aircraft by the end of April.
This will allow flight attendants to process card payments, using the airline's existing "FlyDesk" electronic cabin tablet solutions. iPad minis are currently being handed out to cabin crew which will make Allegiant the first carrier where every flight attendant will have an individual tablet computer, says Andrew Kemmetmueller, chief executive of Allegiant Systems (6E79).
The airline's IT sister company has developed the system in partnership with Canadian software house Lixar and AvIntel. A beta version was tested on a limited number of flights from October 2012.
Kemmetmueller says that the team also evaluated potential alternatives using Android and Windows 8-based technology. But eventually they decided to stay with the iPad because "we needed a platform we could invest into for five years or more that provided required security and stability".
The system is being offered to other airlines too and, after trials with a number of carriers, has attracted a first customer from South America. The standard version processes all information when it connects to the telecommunications infrastructure after landing. But airlines with inflight wi-fi can set it up to process all data immediately, thus reducing the risk of cancelled or incomplete payments.
Allegiant Systems has also inked a strategic partnership with Row 44 parent Global Eagle Entertainment. Inflight connectivity should expand the possible application of "FlyDesk", such as providing crew with more real-time information and communications when a flight is delayed and passengers need to be re-booked for later connecting flights.