Virgin Atlantic has joined Emirates in enabling passengers to make in-flight mobile calls using their own personal devices. The service kicked off in test mode yesterday on Virgin’s new A330 planes flying from New York JFK to London Heathrow. By year-end the service will be rolled out to about 20 planes and about 10 routes in total, including the 747s which are currently being refurbished. The service allows passengers to make calls, send/receive text messages, and use data services.  The network displays as a roaming GPRS network on passenger’s phones and they are billed at international roaming rates (determined individually be each carrier).  The network is available in all classes and works via land to plane satellite.  The service is not available during take-off, landing, or within 250 miles of US airspace. Luckily, current technology and bandwidth will only allow for up to ten passengers to make calls at any given time. Lufthansa and Qatar dropped in-flight cell phone calls a few years ago after passengers began complaining that is was interrupting their sleep and work productivity. Qantas tested a similar system few years back and ended up declining a full roll-out.  However, Virgin’s press releases states that the service will be extremely helpful to passengers as “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.”  I’m hoping that the international roaming costs will deter most passengers from using the service.  I know when I board a plane, I’m looking to relax and disconnect, watch some movies, and hopefully get a little bit of sleep. The idea of my seatmate chatting away across the Atlantic is a very scary thought!

What do you think?  Take the poll below…

Is in-flight calling an awesome new perk or a guaranteed annoyance?

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The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


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Levi Flight May 16, 2012 - 3:54 pm

542 votes as of right now. Got a meaningful pole on your hands. Quite a clear response.

adam May 17, 2012 - 9:45 pm

@Levi Flight – Yep, the readers have definitely spoken. No phones on-board!


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