Windows 8 tablets to be handed out to Emirates' flight crew

The luxury airline announces that it is delivering 1,000 HP ElitePad 900 tablets to its flight attendants, which will run on Windows 8 and come with a built-in airline-specific business app.

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Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
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Emirates Airline will soon be equipped with HP Windows 8 tablets. Emirates

Emirates Airline is giving its flight attendants a tech upgrade. The airline announced today that it will be handing out 1,000 HP ElitePad 900 tablets equipped with Windows 8 to its crew and staff.

Emirates made this announcement today during the Windows 8 launch event in Dubai, which is home to the airline. The carrier said it picked the HP ElitePad 900 as its device of choice because it is light, has a long battery life, and was built specifically for business users.

"To support our crew, we have created an application on Windows 8 that delivers a unique, personalized experience with the necessary information for our cabin crew to better serve the needs of customers," Emirates Cabin Crew senior vice president Kevin Griffiths said in a statement. "The Windows 8 platform running on HP ElitePad 900 devices gave us this option, allowing us to create the KIS app that enables our crew to offer an experience not available on other airlines."

The tablets will use a business app for Windows 8 called Knowledge Driven In-flight Service (KIS), which is tailored with airplane, crew, and customer information. Emirates has used KIS since 2004, but this is the first time it will be uploaded for use on in-flight tablets.

Seeing as how the HP ElitePad 900 won't be available until January 2013, Emirates won't start using the device until then either. The airline said it plans to have 100 tablets in its planes by the end of January and 1,000 by the end of the year.

Emirates is known for being ahead of the curve when it comes to popular technology and airplanes. In 2006, it announced that it would start letting passengers use cell phones during flights, along with e-mail and text messaging. And just last month, it announced that it is upgrading that service to work in conjunction with its Wi-Fi, which should make calls easier.

American Airlines will also be using tablets on its flights in the near future. In September, the carrier announced that it received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for its pilots to use Apple's iPad in the cockpit during all phases of flight. Under America's proposed plan, it will switch from paper manuals for pilots to the iPad, which it says will save the airline about $1.2 million in fuel since the iPad is so much lighter than the 35-pound kitbag previously used by its pilots.