I kind of dislike how Kindle Fire and Kindle Paperwhite (and Barnes and Noble's competing products) get lumped into the same category. An e-paper device is not a tablet. It can't run apps, can't do video, can't do animated menus, can barely do text entry. If it could do apps, it might be ok for texting, possibly.
What it does, do, it does very well. It displays books for reading, and has a battery that lasts 1-2 months, depending on how bright and how long you run the frontlight for.
By your sentence, I'm assuming that you see the e-paper kindles on airplanes, rather than the tablet kindle, which makes sense to me. If you're going to get a tablet to read books on, why get the crippled Amazon tablet when you could get a Galaxy or iPad and install the kindle app.