Virgin America is equipping their employees with Nexus 7 tablets, so now when you want to order food using their food button located on the in-flight entertainment system, the order will be relayed directly. Nicknamed the CrewPad, these tablets compliment the 9-inch entertainment systems already in place and displayed in front of travelers (featuring a number of programming options).
Virgin America is a company proud to be ahead of the curve, but this adoption of tablets is just the next step toward mobile integration with the airline industry. It began a few years ago with a few airlines in Europe lending iPads to passengers interested in watching movies on-board, and is evolving so that others now offer an app that provides free access to movies on your own personal tablet (complete with a seat-bad holster to hold your device).
Pilots have also benefited from the use of tablets, with many of their flight manuals and other documents now available in digital format. It is nice that their load is lightened, but it also means searching, bookmarking, and referencing the text within those documents is more efficient.
Each of these uses makes sense, tablets are useful productivity tools that double as entertainment devices –making them perfect travel companions. Add to this the potential of interacting with the airlines themselves and suddenly they are even more valuable.