Inflight mobile phone calls coming soon. Thoughts?

Passengers on this gorgeous Air New Zealand A320 can now make cell phone calls in flight. (Photo: Air New Zealand)

Passengers on this gorgeous Air New Zealand A320 can now make cell phone calls in flight. (Photo: Air New Zealand)

Whether you like it or not, in-flight mobile calls may soon be coming to an airline near you.

Air New Zealand recently signed up with Geneva-based OnAir, an onboard system that allows airline passengers to use mobile phones, laptops and other portable devices to communicate with the ground using voice and/or data connections.

While some carriers, such as British Airways and Qatar Airways, use OnAir to allow only data communications (text, e-mail), Air New Zealand joins several other airlines, such as Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Royal Jordanian and TAP Air Portugal, that use the technology to allow mobile voice calls on certain flights. It’s a highly controversial notion in the US, where lawmakers have proposed laws that would ban in-flight voice calls.

OnAir and other companies such as Aeromobile employ picocell technology, deemed safe by aviation authorities. With the flip of a switch, any airline using OnAir can set the system to offer both data and voice calls on any flight. (Voice calling is available to anyone with a GSM phone and an international roaming agreement- calls typically run $2-$3 per minute)

To read the rest of this post and learn which other airlines could be offering cell phone service, click here and read it on my BBC.com Travel Blog

  • Jane Wong

    This is a terrible idea. I don’t mind email or texting, but I don’t want to listen to someone else’s phone calls. Can you imagine a 3 or 5 or 10 hour flight with people around you talking all the time?

  • http://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsid=6275 Matt

    fortunately it’s not up to the airlines… currently the FCC has banned the use of cellular phone services in aircraft.

  • Dean

    Oh please no! Inflight is one of the few places I can get away from people yammering on their phones.

  • Anthonyv8

    What a truly ghastly development. At least trains offer phone-free cars.