The debate over using cell phones in flight is about to ignite once again. But this time, it’s not about safety.
Virgin Atlantic announced it will become the first British airline to provide passengers with a service to make and receive phone calls in the air. The service is available on the Airbus A330-300s, the airline’s new aircraft. It’s aimed at business travellers, but is available throughout the aircraft in all cabins.
The service, called AeroMobile, is available for customers with O2 and Vodafone network providers only.
The service “is intended for use in exceptional situations, when passengers need to send an SMS, make a quick call, or access an email on a Blackberry,” said the airline. It is also limited to six users at one time.
What’s not clear is what constitutes an “exceptional circumstance.” Also, what exactly is a “quick” call?
And if more than six people need to make a “quick call” under “exceptional circumstances,” who decides which six people get to do so?
Air rage anyone?
“The airline cabin is the last refuge for those who wish to be out of earshot of someone yelling into a mobile phone, so I imagine that many passengers are not going to welcome this,” said George Hobica, president of Airfarewatchdog.com. “I can just imagine sitting next to someone gabbing about nothing at the top of his or her lungs for hours on end. I predict a number of mobile phones will be snatched out of hands and stomped on. Just what we need, with all the other in-flight hostilities that passengers deal with.”
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