British Airways snaps up 15,000 iPhone XR units for cabin crew


Probably should have waited a few weeks.
Photo: British Airways

Imagine buying a brand new iPhone just weeks before Apple introduces an upgrade. Now imagine buying 15,000. That’s exactly what British Airways has done for all its cabin crew members.

The handsets are being pre-loaded with apps that can be used to “offer a more personalized service,” BA says. It’s part of a £6.5 billion plan to step up customer support over the next five years.

Airlines love Apple devices. Many have given pilots an iPad to replace hefty maps and flight manuals, while United Airlines picked up 6,000 iPhone 6 Plus units to improve customer service in 2015.

Now BA is doing the same with the iPhone XR, except it isn’t customer service representatives that are getting them. It’s the entire BA cabin crew.

BA spends millions on iPhone XR

Every single member of BA’s 15,000-person cabin crew will receive a new iPhone XR as part of a multi-million pound investment in technology and training, the airline confirmed today.

The handsets will come with apps that help crew members provide additional assistance to BA’s more than 45 million customers a year. They also provide access to previous flight and meal preferences.

Bradley Smith, one of the first to receive an iPhone XR, says the device is already proving to be useful.

“Recently, when a customer realised that he had forgotten to order a special meal, he was really impressed when I quickly took out the phone, logged onto and ordered a meal for his return journey – all within a matter of minutes in the middle of the flight.”

“It felt so rewarding to be able to immediately resolve the situation for the customer,” Smith said. “All my crew reference guides are also loaded onto the phone, so everything I need is in my pocket throughout each flight; it really has made a huge difference already.”

BA embraces iOS devices

The rollout comes after a successful trial of equipping senior cabin crew members with an iPad for every flight. It is the latest initiative in a £6.5 billion plan to bolster customer support, which also includes the installation of high-speed Wi-Fi on every flight.

BA will also take delivery of 73 new aircraft — four of which will join its fleet before the end of 2019. The airline has already been awarded the Skytrax gong for Best Airline Staff in Europe.