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tech in the spotlight

Airports Lend Free iPads to Fliers

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 5, 2012 02:18 PM

Airport concession operator OTG Management, a comparatively new player in the game, was chosen by JetBlue for its Terminal 5 hub at New York's JFK Airport. Known for offering varied cuisine, the terminal has added free iPads for travelers to use, starting with LaGuardia, Minneapolis-St. Paul International and Toronto Pearson International airports.

“The iPads will be locked down and pre-loaded with apps that will allow travelers to check their flights, order food, check email and update Facebook. It’s a great advertising tool for OTG’s eateries and Apple (as if it needed more advertising). So look for an iPad at an airport near you soon!” notes aviation blogger/journalist Benet Wilson. 

The three major North American airports will offer 2,500 iPads for anyone’s use and according to OTG CEO Rick Blatstein, “We’re very bullish on the iPad and customer satisfaction and client satisfaction.” (Blatstein discusses his company’s plans in this video.)

Integrating the iPads with their restaurant services makes a hybrid airport concierge service. “The intention is to make exhausted, angry or harried passengers “feel calm and connected,” said Blatstein. It’s a concept he says the whole company has internalized while developing the project. The code name developers used for it was “Operation Zanax,” reports GigaOm.

Blatstein says the company will be purchasing between 25,000 to 100,000 iPads as the $10 million initiative expands to more U.S. airports. Travelers can use the iPads to order meals that will be delivered to their seat in 15 minutes or less. The tables also double as charging stations.

"We are spending more and more time in airports now, why not have a fun time while we do it," Blatstein told PC Mag. "This will be the largest deployment of free-use iPads out there, other than the Apple stores."

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