Hitting the friendly skies doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t make a mobile phone call — at least if you’re flying on one of Virgin’s new Airbus A330 planes. The airline plans to make in-flight calling available first on its flight from London to New York. By the end of the year, in-flight calling will be available on 17 planes and at least 10 routes.
Calls will be restricted to the time the plane is actually in the air – so you’ll still have to power off when the plane takes off or lands – and American laws require the service to be turned off when the plane gets within 250 miles of U.S. airspace.
“Many people will have experienced that moment when you’re about to take off on a 10-hour flight and you need to send an important message to the office, or even reminding a family member to feed the cat,” Steve Griffiths, Virgin Atlantic’s chief operation officer, explains in a press release. “It’s also quite fun to call home and say ‘Guess where I am’ – not many people would think you’re traveling at 35,000ft above the Atlantic Ocean.”
Mobile access will be provided by a company called AeroMobile, and only six passengers will be able to take advantage of the calling function at once. Calls will have to be placed from phones on European carriers O2 and Vodafone, or the U.S. carrier T-Mobile. Customers will also be able to send text messages and access email on mobile devices.
Chatterers will be charged around what they might pay for traditional roaming charges. Keep in mind, when you’re taking about roaming into different countries “traditional roaming charges” can add up to a huge chunk of change pretty quickly. Depending on how loud and long the in-flight conversation is, callers may also pay for using the service in dirty looks from their fellow passengers who are trying to read or snooze during their transatlantic journey.
What do you think about Virgin offering in-flight calling? Is it a service you’d like to use, or do you wish was left out of airplanes?
Posted by Janine E. Mooney, Editor
May 16, 2012