Embracing Innovation in the Aviation Industry

How purposeful deployment of mobile technology can bring speed, efficiency, and employee satisfaction to deskless workers in the airline industry.

December 7 2023 by

Sean Smith

Baggage handler at airport uses iPad managed by Jamf.

Mobile devices and forward-thinking organizations go hand-in-hand. When organizations deploy devices for a purpose – like an iPhone or an iPad – they can improve speed, efficiency and employee satisfaction. Airlines are often at the forefront of innovation – and Jamf and Apple are perfect partners to explore what is possible.

Meet the need for speed

As is common in the transportation industry, airline employees are on the move, part of the deskless workforce.

When airlines think speed, it’s about more than just how fast planes can fly. But when it comes to increasing flight frequency and maximizing passenger flow, because planes are expensive to buy and gates are expensive to build, airlines must look to other areas.

Mobile device uses include:

  • Ticketing agents using iPads for passenger check-in
  • Passengers using kiosk iPads to check-in on their own terms
  • Gate agents using iPhones to scan passenger boarding passes
  • Cabin crews using iPads for pre-flight checklists, internal apps and point-of-sale
  • Pilots using iPads as electronic flight bags with pre-flight checklists

But as with any device deployed for a purpose, articulating end-user interaction is key. By doing this, IT teams (and any team responsible for how devices are used) can better provision devices for end users and their tasks, maintain device and app compliance, and simplify redundant IT processes. Not to mention reduce technology strain on end users.

Configure devices for a purpose

Deploying a device for a purpose means focusing on intent.

How a check-in agent uses iPad is not the same as how a gate agent uses an iPhone, and how a flight attendant uses an iPad is radically different from how a pilot uses an iPad.

For example, a pilot may have an iPad that is assigned to them personally in a 1:1 deployment, meaning they can use it on or off the job. While the iPad may be used for pre-flight checklists or operations manuals, at other times it could be used to watch a favorite movie at a hotel. Because this iPad is used on the job, not only are security and compliance requirements tight, but understanding compliance is crucial.

When you use a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution like Jamf with granular visibility and reporting capabilities into device and applications, IT admins can see:

  • If the device has the required iOS installed
  • What software titles are installed on the device
  • If the software titles are on compliant versions

Deploying devices for a purpose also means limiting the device to its intended purpose.

When a device is used for different purposes, IT teams need to be able to customize and provision it for on-duty or off-duty use. There can also be strict guidelines about what employees can or cannot access in flight.

It’s important that these devices meet not just compliance requirements, but also the organization’s data policy. For example, when employees stream their favorite movie – especially internationally – data plan costs can rack up. Being able to configure cap policies for data usage and to apply them when a threshold is reached gives visibility into when and how much data is used.

Simplify shared device management

For shared devices, any employee should be able to pick up any device, select their role and go about their task.

A shared device could be an iPad set up to be used by a flight attendant for pre-flight checklists, while the same iPad can be used as a point-of-sale by another flight attendant. Or maybe an iPad needs to be used by operations teams on one day and gate teams on the next.

No matter how the shared device is used, it needs to provide a tailored experience with role-specific configurations. Not only that, but it must balance connecting employees with the right apps with limiting app overload or noise.

The Jamf Setup app in Jamf Pro enables immediate purpose-driven device provisioning and re-provisioning. This means a check-in agent, flight attendant or operations team member can pick up any device with Jamf Setup on it, make a selection (based on their role, for example) and the device changes its configuration to match.

So when a gate agent needs to use an iPhone to scan boarding passes, they can select their role in Jamf Setup or with Single Login, see the scanning app populate and start helping to board passengers. This device may be used not just for scanning, but also for training, internal communications and more.

When the user is done with the device, it's simple to reset it and wipe their data, ready for the next user. Because many airline employees work in environments with spotty Wi-Fi and internet connectivity, it’s crucial that the person handling the device can re-provision it on their own, without the need for IT assistance.

With Return to Service, available via the Jamf Pro API or the Return to Service app, organizations can use re-provisioning workflows to automatically configure mobile devices, without needing to go through the Setup Assistant. The previously selected language, region – and critically the Wi-Fi profile – are all on the device, ready to go.

Built for take-off: Apple and Jamf

Mobile devices offer ample opportunities to create efficiencies and improve productivity. From the end user’s perspective, the device just needs to work. But for the airline teams in charge of devices, it’s most important to be able to build workflows that reduce IT processes, configure devices to intended purposes, and understand device and application compliance.

If you are using Apple devices, delivering an Apple-first, Apple-best experience by building on native Apple frameworks with Jamf solutions will set your teams up for success.

Request a free trial to upgrade your device management today.

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