‘I’m on the plane’ – Virgin Atlantic to introduce cell phone service on New York-London flights

As any regular flier will know all too well, a long flight can seem even longer when you’re caught next to someone determined to share their life story with you when all you really want to do is finish your beer and slip into a state of blissful slumber.

However, passengers flying with Virgin Atlantic on the New York-London route who do manage to make it to dreamland could soon find themselves being rudely awakened by the person beside them gabbling away into their cell phone.

The airline is set to become the first British carrier to introduce a new service that will allow travelers to make calls mid-flight from their mobile device.

The service – to be introduced this year on Virgin Atlantic’s new Airbus A330-300 aircraft – will also enable passengers to send and receive emails as well as surf the web. A number of the airline’s 747 aircraft will also be equipped with the technology, with a total of 20 planes providing the service.

Available in all cabins, the service is aimed primarily at business travelers who might need to make an urgent call or send an important email.

“We have listened to what customers want and connectivity in the air is always on the wish list,” Greg Dawson, Virgin Atlantic’s director of corporate communications, said in a statement.

He added, “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!”

The system can be accessed by customers of T-Mobile, as well as those with European-based operators O2 and Vodafone.

There will be certain restrictions with Virgin’s new service – for example, the usual “switch off all electronic devices during take-off and landing” rule will still apply, and in accordance with US law, the service will be turned off around 250 miles from American airspace.

So how do you feel about the prospect of being seated beside someone on a flight chattering away into their phone – or do you think it’s a service you yourself might want to use?

[Image: Adrian Pingstone]

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