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Delta flight attendants upgrade to Nokia Lumia 1520 phablets

Delta flight attendants are ditching their Nokia Lumia 820 smartphones in favor of something shiny and new.

The airline on Monday announced plans to outfit more than 20,000 of its flight attendants with Windows Phone 8.1-powered Nokia Lumia 1520 phablets this autumn, replacing the Lumia 820s currently in use. The 6in phablet now will serve as their in-flight sales device and manual, and allow for more personalised in-flight customer service.

"Delta continues to invest in the latest tools and resources for our flight attendants to provide exceptional service to our 165 million annual customers," Delta's senior vice president of in-flight service, Joanne Smith, said in a statement.

The airline expects to save more than $1 million (£600,000) in reduced fuel and printing costs annually by offering electronic access to its 500-page, five-pound on-board manual, which must be carried by every flight attendant. Flight attendants will also use the device to take customer meal orders, receive information about their flight, and see data about passengers, such as their frequent flyer status or need for special services.

"The phablet is a great foundation for future software applications that, in time, will allow our flight attendants to readily access customer preferences, previous travel experiences with Delta and worldwide connectivity to the company, enabling them to provide the more tailored experience many customers have come to expect," Theresa Wise, Delta senior vice president and chief information officer, said in a statement.

Delta plans to distribute the devices starting in October and complete the rollout by the end of the year. The move comes after Delta in September announced plans to deploy the Surface 2 to its 11,000 pilots as part of an effort to eliminate paper flight manuals.