In the olden days (circa 2022), flight attendants who wanted to speak to each other from different parts of the plane while on a flight had two choices. They either had to use an intercom/phone system (some of those “dings” you’ll hear on a flight are the equivalent of a “phone ringing”) or walk from, say the front of the plane to the rear galley for whatever discussion needed to be had.
Technology being what it is, times are starting to change. Alaska Airlines has become the first U.S. carrier to power its flight attendants with an app called Ditto. It’s software that gives front-line crew members collaboration tools with real-time data and passenger analytics, even if the internet isn’t working.
“Ditto’s Intelligent Edge Platform enables real-time, peer-to-peer communication without internet. By powering Alaska Airlines’ crew-to-crew collaboration app, flight attendants are able to more efficiently perform internal processes such as guest services and delivery of onboard products,” Ditto said in a press release.
And not only that, Ditto’s website says the software will, “…synchronize all sales, crew, and passenger data in real-time ensuring consistency, merging with the cloud when internet is available.”
What does this mean?
Ditto says it will have a variety of uses:
- Allow cabin crew to coordinate without hassle – Easily chat between galleys. Ditto’s Intelligent Edge Platform provides real-time peer-to-peer chat, without any in-flight Wi-Fi, enhancing crew collaboration. Flight attendants can communicate and delegate work within the flight, without running back and forth between galleys.
- Inventory Management – Organize your work anywhere. Ditto will synchronize all sales, crew, and passenger data in real-time ensuring consistency, merging with the cloud when internet is available.
- Task Management – Synchronize tasks from the cockpit and throughout the cabin. Cabin crew and pilots will fall back to peer-to-peer when they go through areas without internet. Ensure data is always consistent with automatic conflict resolution upon reconnection.
- Cloud Backup. When connection is available, sync to the Ditto cloud. Connectivity can be intermittent, but when crew devices regain cloud connection, their devices will sync all offline changes to backend systems.
What kind of “passenger data” are they talking about?
Ditto’s website mentions “passenger data” a few times, but doesn’t explain its possibilities. At first glance, I figure it could mean something as simple as the fact that you ordered a Coke Zero and a bag of chips and used credit card XYZ.
But if the Ditto Cloud saves information from flight to flight, it could also mean every Alaska Airlines flight attendant from here on in could know that Joe Shmo from Kokomo, who’s sitting in First Class, tends to get handsy. Or that Chris Smith in 14C became inebriated after the first 2 drinks on their last flight.
On the other hand, it could also allow flight crew to share helpful information about passengers, like I always prefer my Coke Zero without ice (true story!) or my husband Joseph prefers to be called “Joe.”
Alaska Airlines is the first airline in the U.S. to use Ditto, although it appears that after securing $9M in seed funding to sync devices without an internet connection in November 2021, Japan Airlines began using a similar form of Ditto in December 2021, and Lufthansa began using it to digitize paper processes in October 2022.
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I think this is a great idea especially involving onboard sales, to keep track of who has ordered what/how many. I’ve seen on long flights with buy on board where passengers have bought liquor from one crew member then another, then a third, and hard to keep a tally of how much they’ve had.
It’s a brave new world…