Friday, October 7, 2011
As someone who has been flying for most of my adult life as a flight attendant, the effect Steve Jobs and Apple had on the comfort of air travelers over the past 10 years cannot be underestimated.
After the advent of the iPod, iPhone and iPad, I have seen a significant change in how passengers occupy their time on the plane as they use these devices (and similar competitors’ devices that followed) as a replacement for bulky books and CD/DVD players.
The iPod obviously changed how people listened to music on planes. With the touch of a button on a device that could hold thousands of songs in the palm of their hand, they could quickly escape and take themselves into another world inside the unexciting environs of an airliner.
Before the iPad, it was such a hassle for passengers to pull out a bulky laptop from a bag underneath their seat, open it up, turn it on, wait several minutes for it to boot up, put down the tray table so you could set your laptop on it, and essentially lock yourself in your seat (and anyone else who who was unlucky enough to be sitting between you and the window) for the next few hours without a huge ordeal to close everything back up if anyone needed to go to the bathroom!
On top of that, how many times has your laptop screen been whacked when an inconsiderate passenger in front of you reclined their seat into your personal space in a nanosecond with no regard?
The iPad has changed much of that. With over 29 million sold, along with millions of other tablet computers that have hit the market since its inception, I have definitely noticed on planes a significant number of air travelers who have switched from laptops to tablets because of how much more portable and faster they are to power-up. Not to mention a fully charged iPad can last several hours more than most laptops.
Another reason for the iPad’s popularity and other tablets on planes is because it’s so much easier to watch a movie or TV show since you can move it around and change body positions compared to a laptop where you are essentially stuck in one position.
The launch of the iPhone (and subsequently Android phones) has had an even bigger impact than the iPad on how people spend their time when flying. Because of all that an iPad can do, from being a phone, e-reader, video player, MP3 player, email/text device, etc., passengers can keep themselves entertained or informed so much more easily during those idle periods before planes push back from the gate.
The same thing applies after they are up in the air above 10,000 feet when passengers can turn on their portable devices and lose themselves in the iPhone or Android app of their choice. As a flight attendant who cares about my passengers, I am all for anything that makes them more comfortable on their flight (as you can tell from my invention here).
Sure, there were Blackberries and other smart phones before the iPhone, but the iPhone changed everything with it’s beautiful and larger screen, thousands of apps, ease of use, and overall adoption by a mass market.
Beyond being so portable and being able to turn-on so quickly, the iPad and iPhone share some of the same advantages in one huge area: parents being able to entertain their kids with gaming or educational apps without having to carry a separate device. Because of these devices, I have seen a huge drop-off of other gaming devices. Just the other day I saw a child learning how to play the piano with a cool piano app, and doing it without disturbing other passengers thanks to her earphones.
With the world’s loss of Steve Jobs a couple of days ago, it made me reflect and realize just how grateful airline passengers — and flight attendants — are to such a visionary that forever changed how we would spend our time in airports and on planes. Thank you, Steve. We will miss you.