Virgin America deploys Google Nexus 7s across its fleet

We're hearing more and more about how airlines are using widely available technologies to improve their performance, both on the ground and in the air. For example, just recently, low-cost airline flydubai deployed Windows 8 tablets for check-in staff to help them check passengers in 'on the spot' in the terminal building, rather than being stuck at a desk. As a result, the airline was able to reduce check-in times to just two minutes per passenger. 

Saudi Airlines too announced this week that it has launched a new business intelligence platform for its management staff and executives, bringing together multiple disparate systems into one single unified resource that brings in information from across the company, using a range of Microsoft products. As a result, the airline projects savings of millions of dollars per year. 

Virgin America is the latest to put technology to use across its fleet of Airbus jets. As the airline celebrates its seventh birthday this Friday, it is retiring its antiquated onboard flight management system for flight attendants and ditching its old tablets in favor of Google Nexus 7s for cabin crew. 

The device - which Virgin America refer to as the "CrewPad", by popular vote - is used by flight attendants to help manage the requirements and needs of the passengers. For example, a passenger can order a drink via the seat-back 'Red' in-flight entertainment touch-screen, and the order will appear on the tablet, directing a flight attendant to bring fifteen airline-sized bottles of gin to the lady in 21A, or whatever. 

Virgin America says that it chose the Nexus 7 because it's thin and light, and because of its generously sized 7-inch display. It also has one eye on the future though, saying that the tablets offer "the ability to constantly enhance the software and make the service even more personalized for our guests." 

We were certainly very impressed with the Nexus 7 when we reviewed it, and it remains one of our favorite tablets of all time. Virgin America trialed the device for thirty days across numerous flights, and deemed it such a success that it will now roll out across the fleet. The full rollout should be completed by next week. 

Source: Virgin America via SlashGear | top image via ABT; lower image via Virgin America

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Mozilla launches its new $170 dual-core developer phone, the Flame

Next Story

Larger iPhone could be known as the iPhone 6L

21 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Last time I flew, it was about 45 seconds to check my primary baggage in at the main 'window' and another 15 to check in at the plane.

So what are these people doing that takes 2 minutes to accomplish?

And yes, I'm not including the TSA invasions.

derekaw said,
I am surprised that Virgin would go with such a cheap low end device.

Because managing drink orders requires something with a lot of horse power :-P

I own both a Nexus 7 (first gen) and a Venue 8 Pro, and I pick up the Nexus way more. They are both great tablets, but the Nexus is better bang for the buck.

directing a flight attendant to bring fifteen airline-sized bottles of gin to the lady in 21A, or whatever.

Just fifteen?

Poor choice, Windows 8.1 tablets are best of all available in market. And some of them are also cheaper and light weight. They should have chosen one of em instead of any android tabs.

I don't think the flight attendants plan on coding in visual studio, running a few websites and databases or creating CAD diagrams in between serving refreshments.

Besides, Windows slabs cost anywhere from $700 to $1500 wheras the Nexus 7 is ~$200, saving the airline a ton of money, and are also easier to maintain and replace.

Vishwal said,
Poor choice, Windows 8.1 tablets are best of all available in market. And some of them are also cheaper and light weight. They should have chosen one of em instead of any android tabs.
Well when you're bulk ordering Nexus 7 (which btw are cheap to begin with) or any device, I'm sure Virgin airlines got a big price cut. Also, the Nexus 7 weighs less than the most popular Win. 8. tablet, the Dell Venue 8 Pro (10.55 oz. vs. 13.90 oz.).

I wouldn't use it - I carry my own tablet with content I want or I'd use my Kindle, to burn time on a plane.

recursive said,
I don't think the flight attendants plan on coding in visual studio, running a few websites and databases or creating CAD diagrams in between serving refreshments.

Besides, Windows slabs cost anywhere from $700 to $1500 wheras the Nexus 7 is ~$200, saving the airline a ton of money, and are also easier to maintain and replace.

Where the hell did I say their staff want to code some programs ? Modern Internet Explorer 11 is superior to any tablet/phone browser if they would have chosen Windows 8.1 RT tabs, but we're talking about Windows 8.1 tabs and we all know what it can do when it comes to do a simple internet browsing. And 7-8 inch Windows 8.1 tabs costs around 200-250$ only so 2nd part of your post is invalid.

tsupersonic said,
Well when you're bulk ordering Nexus 7 (which btw are cheap to begin with) or any device, I'm sure Virgin airlines got a big price cut. Also, the Nexus 7 weighs less than the most popular Win. 8. tablet, the Dell Venue 8 Pro (10.55 oz. vs. 13.90 oz.).

I wouldn't use it - I carry my own tablet with content I want or I'd use my Kindle, to burn time on a plane.


And what makes you thinking that Dell or any other company wouldn't have given them a good price cut ? And I don't think a small weight difference matters much, we're talking about Windows here which gives vastly superior experience than any other OS.

Vishwal said,

And 7-8 inch Windows 8.1 tabs costs around 200-250$ only so 2nd part of your post is invalid.

Examples please.

Vishwal said,
Poor choice, Windows 8.1 tablets are best of all available in market. And some of them are also cheaper and light weight.

Yeah, I'm sure Virgin decided to buy a more expensive, less suitable device because it hates saving money and investing in better products. :rolleyes:

Windows 8.1 tablets are better for some users but clearly not for this purpose.

Vishwal said,
Poor choice, Windows 8.1 tablets are best of all available in market. And some of them are also cheaper and light weight. They should have chosen one of em instead of any android tabs.

Complete overkill for what they want to do.

Vishwal said,
Poor choice, Windows 8.1 tablets are best of all available in market. And some of them are also cheaper and light weight. They should have chosen one of em instead of any android tabs.

You can always fly Delta. They use Windows devices for their flight attendants and I believe for their pilots too.

theyarecomingforyou said,

Yeah, I'm sure Virgin decided to buy a more expensive, less suitable device because it hates saving money and investing in better products. :rolleyes:

Windows 8.1 tablets are better for some users but clearly not for this purpose.

Exactly, and let's not forget these were NOT purchased for the passengers to browse the web on. They are intended for crew to manage drink orders using a custom app.