Last updated: 11:36 AM ET, Mon June 20 2016

Frontier Using Tablets to Improve In-Flight Service

Airlines & Airports | Josh Lew | June 20, 2016

Frontier Using Tablets to Improve In-Flight Service

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Frontier Airlines has made improvements in its overall performance recently. In addition to a significant increase in its on-time percentage, the low-cost carrier has lowered the number of complaints that it receives and changed the way that it handles in-flight purchases.

Improving in-flight payment processing

Frontier has teamed up with Samsung to upgrade the system that it uses to record and process payments for in-flight services. Flight attendants have been given 4G-connected Samsung Galaxy Tablets that can be used to accept credit card payments for in-flight purchases such as food and beverages.

By Frontier’s own admission, this was a necessary upgrade. The airline’s old payment processing system was plagued with problems. The previously-used point-of-sale technology was slow, and dead batteries and malfunctioning devices were a constant inconvenience for both staff and fliers.

The old system did not work on up to 10 percent of Frontier’s flights. For a low-cost carrier that charges for in-flight extras, this proved to be a critical flaw, and it most likely contributed to Frontier's poor image amongst fliers.

All of the airline’s 1,300 flight attendants have access to the 4G devices.

READ MORE: Report Suggests Frontier Is Going Public

Improving its image

The tablets are a practical solution for what was an embarrassing problem for Frontier. The low cost of the tablets means that the upgrade should pay for itself quickly as the airline limits the number of missed sales. However, the improvement to the in-flight experience for customers is arguably more important than the increased ancillary profits. An improved image could help convince more fliers that Frontier is a viable alternative to better-performing low cost carriers like Southwest and JetBlue.

The Samsung tabs are part of a larger effort by Frontier to improve its image. The Denver-based carrier made a significant improvement in its on-time performance in April. For that month overall, the airline had an on-time percentage of 85.8. That was a significant improvement over the 77.6 percent of flights that arrived on time in March.

In 2015, Frontier received the most complaints of any airline in the country, with 8.67 complaints per 100,000 passengers. In April, the airline’s complaint numbers were down to 2.76 per 100,000. That is still above the national average, but much lower than it once was (and much lower than its main competitor, Spirit).

Frontier appears to be moving in the right direction as far as customer service is concerned. Though it still lags behind other carriers in some areas, the airline has made improvements. The adoption of the 4G tablets shows that it is willing to invest in making upgrades that could make it competitive with top tier LCCs.


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