Back in 2008 Emirates became the first airline to let passengers use their mobile phones while flying. But this year Virgin Atlantic will allow calls on mobile devices to be made on its London to New York flights as well. The service will be available on the airline's Airbus A330 from London to New York, with the technology provided by AeroMobile.
This is the next step in the inevitable move towards wi-fi making in-flight calls the norm in the coming years, something that will affect cabin crew
. “This will mean more work for us to ensure people will comply with turning off mobiles at take-off and landing,” said one member of the Cabin Crew forum
However Virgin Atlantic
says only six people will be allowed to talk at once when it introduces its service. It’s thought around 20 planes will have this service available by the end of this with restricted use in certain parts of the world. In the US, the Federal Communications Commission does not allow the use of mobile phones on planes, so passengers will not be allowed to make calls when approaching US airspace.
On the Virgin Atlantic flights the calls will cost £1 a minute and sending a text will be 20p, so it’s thought that business users are likely to be the primary market for the new facility.
Analysts say that in-flight calls and wi-fi are the future, and soon the technology will be on most aeroplanes. However a new survey from Skyscanner shows that 86% of people do not want mobile phone use to be permitted on planes, as it’s ‘annoying to have to listen to other people’s conversations’.
The study says that although many people welcome improvements in general internet connectivity allowing them to go online in more places around the world, there appears to be a markedly different attitude when it comes to mobile phone conversations in confined spaces.
If mobile use was available onboard, 48% said they would send texts, 35% said they would surf the web, 10% would send email, whilst only 6% would actually make and take calls.
Furthermore only 1% of those polled said they would pay more to fly with an airline that offered mobile calls.
Sam Baldwin, Skyscanner
Travel Editor said: “I think it’s inevitable that within a few years, making mobile calls at 30,000 feet will be commonplace on all airlines.”
Browse our cabin crew