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Now you can talk for as long as your cell phone battery will allow on your next long-haul flight with Emirates. The airline just announced the technology to allow passengers to use their mobile phone to make and receive calls while 38,000 feet up in their A380s. This is just another notch in the belt for the airline after being the first to offer passengers satellite phones in 1993. Remember those?
The first super jumbo equipped with the technology took off last week with at least one passenger using the service to call home on a flight from Dubai to Munich. It seems like all went well because the technology will be offered on all A380 jets the airline takes delivery of and they'll even retrofit the remaining 24 aircraft. Best of all, typical roaming charges apply and there's no additional charge if your provider has an agreement with OnAir or AeroMobile, the providers of the service.
We have a feeling that the phone bill will be a shocker enough.
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This might not be as exciting or require the cutting edge technology of Sir Richard Branson ice cubes, but it could come close. Virgin Atlantic is putting the final touches on the technology behind in-flight mobile telephone calls, so you’ll now be able to call someone with a quick “cheerio,” en route to London.
Not all the planes and routes will be getting the new service, as initially the airline’s Airbus A330s will be the first configured with the necessary wires, blinking lights, and switches. The plan is to have around 17 planes up and running before the end of the year, and in total there should be like 10 or so enabled routes.
In-Flight Cell Phones / Air New Zealand / Cell Phones / WiFi / In-Flight WiFi / Airlines / Airline News / In-Flight Entertainment / → All Tags
It seems like the smarter our phones get, the less actual calling we do. And Air New Zealand seems to have figured this out, since they will be adding the ability to text, email and otherwise use your smartphone normally onboard their new Boeing 777-300s later this year. Except you can't make any voice calls.
This is in addition to Air New Zealand's coming long-haul in-flight WiFi on the new 777s, and the SkyCouch seats, so you could pretty much hold business as usual from your seats. Don't get too excited however; you'll still be paying international roaming on your phone bill, just as if you were on the ground in another country and texting and emailing away. And data roaming abroad can be a real pain in the arse.
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Here at Jaunted, we're all about in-flight connectivity and staying on the beat while on the road. This week there's been a lot of news coming out on this topic, so we've wrapped it all up into one nice little story for you.
· Ryanair is ending their in-flight cell phone program
They've only just celebrated their one-year anniversary of allowing passengers to make calls on their own O2 or Vodefone phones for between £1.50 and £3 a minute, and now the dream has died. The contract simply ended when Ryanair couldn't agree to a rollout timeline with provider OnAir for equipping more planes (they only had it on 50). We sure didn't hear anything about it on our Ryanair flight back in January.
In-Flight Cell Phones / Oman Air / Cell Phones / In-flight WiFi / Airlines / Airline News / In-flight Entertainment / → All Tags
Oman Air first impressed us with their unnecessarily nice bathrooms, but now they are moving forward to ruin the entire flight experience—maybe. They are launching full mobile capabilities for first class, business, and economy customers. That means cell phones for all up in the skies. You’ll be welcome to text, tweet, and call all of your friends from your seat. Things should be up and running by the middle of February, which is just in time to apologize to your sweetie for not being home on Valentine’s Day.
In-flight WiFi is also coming to the airline’s entire fleet of Airbus A330s, but cell phones ringing throughout the cabin has us worried. We’ve heard some awful ring tones and text message alerts, and are really hoping that passengers leave things on silent. The airline does promise that the crews will control the services, and that the mobile magic can be limited during quiet times like overnight flights.
Get your earplugs readyon Monday, Mexico lifted a law banning in-flight cell phone use, and now Aeromexico is licking its chops at the thought of giving their passengers the privilege of phoning home first.
With the law gone and Aeromexico's already stating that passengers would be allowed to use their cell phones in-flight, except for during takeoffs, landings, and when flight attendants say not to, we dare you to test it out on your flights to Mexico this Labor Day weekend. Perhaps on your way home on Monday night, call for a cab and then for Thai takeout, all the while flying 35,000-feet somewhere above Louisiana.
We try our very best to let you know how you’ll be able to access the web on your next flight, but we haven’t stumbled across a solution for your pesky cell phone—until now.
SpinVox has that solution somewhat figured out. The company has developed some fancy software to get your voicemail messages delivered right to your inbox. They take that extended two-minute message from your
grandma boss, convert it to text, and shoot it right to your email.
Sounds pretty slick, right? Well, we’re thinking that it’s not the must-have application of the year. Not only will you have to download the program and pony up a usage fee, but currently it’s only available to users of Alltel, Bell, and Vonage--so your iPhone ain’t going to cut it. Additionally, if you’re traveling about and need to get in touch with people, won’t they just email you directly anyway?
Regardless, we’re happy to hear about anything that can harness the mighty power of in-flight WiFi. If you were able to score a long-haul flight with WiFi, this service could definitely come in handy. So what do you think? Is this worth it, do you really need to check your voicemail in flight? Let us know in the comments.
Related Stories: [Photo: nechbi]
·SpinVox [Official Site]
·Alaska Air Starts WiFi Trials, Gives It Away For Free [Jaunted]
·WiFi coverage [Jaunted]
Leave it to one of the world's most nicket-and-dimey airlines to be the first to introduce in-flight cell phone use, for extra fees of course. Irish LCC Ryanair, which last we took it had even covered their vomit bags in ads, will let you make phone calls and even text message if your service provider is O2 or Vodafone.
According to the BBC, an antenna will be activated in airplanes once they reach 10,000 ft, and phones can "connect to that antenna and a mini GSM network that sends the calls and data via an Immarsat SwiftBroadband satellite link back down to earth." Apparently cell phones have been banned in the past because of the lack of this local antenna and "because they connected, or attempted to connect, to terrestrial networks."
Ryanair will start letting passengers make in-flight cell phone calls on some flights in the next couple weeks, and the carrier will charge about £2 ($3.50) a minute for the privilege.
Worried about having to hear stupid conversations? "Stop whining!" says CEO Michael O'Leary:
If you want a quiet flight, use another airline. Ryanair is noisy, full and we are always trying to sell you something.
Such refreshing honesty from an airline!
While carriers in the United States are still working to get in-flight WiFi installed, in the Middle East it's all about cell phones. Emirates is leading the way with plans to add in-flight service on its entire fleet of more than 100 planes.
Does that mean someone will be yakking all the way from London to Dubai on your next flight? Not necessarily, a spokesman says, citing trial flights earlier this year:
A certain on-board etiquette has developed, where passengers try to stay quiet to avoid being seen as intrusive. A pre-flight video is shown on aircraft that use the technology, urging passengers to keep their phones on silent or vibrate mode.
Per minute charges of about $4 will also help keep calls short. But not all passengers are buying the idea that cell phone users will be the most polite people on the plane. Says one internet commenter:
Perhaps they need an area for these people who need to be contacted even though they can't do anything in mid-air. Could I suggest on the wing?
· Emirates Presses Ahead with In-Flight Mobiles [Telegraph]
· Ryanair to Begin Tests of In-Flight Mobiles [Telegraph]
· In-Flight Cell Phones: Not Great for So Many Reasons [Jaunted]
Airphones are so 2007.
The test results are in from the first in-flight cell phone experiments on Air France. Trouble connecting and bad sound quality were among the annoying technical glitches reported--which should mean a few more months of solitude!
Other issues reported? The per minute charge of 3 ($4.75) and the fact that only six passengers at a time can chat. A rep from OneAir, the company responsible for the in-flight technology, claims that the number could more than double in the coming weeks. Uh, terrific?
Still, even with a kink-free in-flight calling experience, the question remains: Who wants to endure a Chatty Cathy for eight hours? Apparently Air France is hoping, the answer is a bunch of European travelers.