There’s been a lot of talk lately about airlines finally giving the green light to passengers wishing to talk on their cell phones up in the air, though whether the majority of flyers are actually in favor of such a move isn’t certain. Being stuck beside someone on a long-haul flight jabbering away into the mouthpiece of their cell phone – as well into your ear – might, after all, be enough to make you want to go for a wing walk to escape the noise.
How passengers really feel, though, may be immaterial as it seems inevitable that a future of planes filled with cell phone owners bellowing into their handsets “I’m on the plane” is just around the corner.
Dubai-based carrier Emirates is leading the charge, allowing passengers on its double-decker A380 jets to use their phones to make calls from this week. The first call was reportedly made 11,500 meters (38,000 feet) up, to a location in China. The nature of the call isn’t known, though if it’s anything like the ones you hear on trains and buses, it won’t have been anything too important.
As an AllThingsD report on the development points out, Emirates is no slacker when it comes to offering passengers options regarding in-flight tech services. In the 1990s, on-board phones and fax machines were installed in its Airbus aircraft, while email and text messaging via in-seat facilities has been offered since 2006.
‘Pushing the boundaries’
In a statement about Emirates’ new service, the airline’s vice president, Patrick Brannelly, said, “Beginning in 1993 with first passenger satellite phone service to last year with our A380 Wi-Fi system, Emirates has always taken the approach that providing the latest in in-flight service and connectivity is a key part of our passengers’ journey”
He added, “Emirates continues to invest in the most innovative technology possible and promises to keep pushing the boundaries of in-flight innovation for the benefit of our passengers.”
Flyers in the US, or those traveling to and from the country, may or may not be pleased to know that a long-standing safety-related ban on the use of cell phones in aircraft imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) means the service will be blocked when the plane is flying over the US or within 250 miles of the country.
It was reported in August that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is planning to take another look at the restrictions placed on the use of personal electronic devices (PEDs) on planes in the US, though cell phones will not be included in the review.