Coffee, Tea, Samsung Galaxy Tablet? American Airlines Goes Way Beyond In-Flight Peanuts

The marketing coup comes at a good time for Samsung, as it leaps with both feet into the iPad-dominated tablet fray.

airline flight crew


Imagine you’re on a plane. The flight attendant is strolling down the aisle offering the usual comforts. Pillow? Blanket? Headphones? Beverage? How about a Samsung Galaxy Tab?

That dream will soon be a reality on American Airlines, which yesterday announced a partnership with Samsung to offer its Galaxy Tab to premium-class customers on select transcontinental flights. All in all, American will deploy 6,000 tablets–a huge selling point for its flights, no doubt. But it could mean even more for Samsung as a marketing coup, just as the company is looking to ramp up the popularity of its Galaxy Tab as more tablets–from the Motorola Xoom to the Toshiba Thrive–enter the fray against the iPad.

“After a lot of discussions, we chose the Samsung device because of its capabilities, its design, and because we thought it’d be a terrific fit for our premium-class customers,” says Rob Friedman, American’s VP of marketing, when asked why the airline did not choose the iPad instead. “We talked to a variety of suppliers. We looked at all of the devices in the market–at the customer features and the cost of each provider. We felt that the agreement we have Samsung for the Galaxy Tablet is going to provide our customers with the cutting edge tablet experience–our conclusion was that it outdoes other tablets in the market.”

For Samsung, such a glowing opinion of the device is exactly what it hopes to drive home with customers on participating flights. When the partnership goes into effect later this year, the premium customers on-board flights from New York to San Francisco, for example, will be offered Galaxy Tabs from the flight crew. This is a valuable demographic: likely the consumers who already own an iPad, but will have a five- to six-hour flight to try out a competitor for free in a relaxed and catered environment.

“This is a win-win situation,” says Friedman, who could not go into the financial details of the deal. “It enables us to have a wonderful device for our customers. At the same time, it provides Samsung with a tremendous opportunity to be in front of our customers, and have our affluent customer-base interact with their product.”

According to Friedman, American plans to build a custom experience around the device–something along the lines of a tablet pre-loaded with music and games that has access to streaming movies and TV shows.


In-flight entertainment may never be the same.

[Image: Flickr user DCMaster]

About the author

Austin Carr writes about design and technology for Fast Company magazine.