Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.

 

Virgin Atlantic allows mid-flight calls

16 May 2012, 12:29

New York - The phrase "Can you hear me now" has entered the jet age.

Passengers on certain Virgin Atlantic flights are now able to use their cellphones to make and receive phone calls at 10 600m, the airline announced.

The British airline's new service could be a blessing for business travellers who want to stay connected during eight-hour flights across the ocean. It could also be a nightmare for the passenger sitting next to them.

"I suspect most passengers, like myself, would prefer not to listen to somebody on the phone for what might be hours," said airline analyst Robert Mann.

Only six passengers at a time will be able to use the system, which the airline says is intended "for use in exceptional situations". Passengers will be able to send text messages, make a call or access e-mail on mobile devices. An airline spokesperson could not say how much a call would cost.

Reaction

Initially, the service - which utilises a satellite connection - will only be available for customers of European cellphone providers O2 and Vodafone and US carrier T-Mobile.

The service debuted on Tuesday on the airline's new Airbus A330-300 planes flying between New York and London. It will expand to nearly 20 planes by year-end, from a handful now.

Dubai-based Emirates became the first carrier to allow passengers to use their personal cellphones back in 2008. A handful of other airlines in the Middle East including Oman Air and Royal Jordanian now have similar services.

Passengers today already wrestle for control of the armrest and the few precious centimetres of personal space they have. It isn't clear how the flying public will react to phone calls mid-flight.

George Hobica, founder of AirfareWatchdog, said Virgin will have to restrict times of day when passengers can make calls in order to not wake up fellow passengers on overnight flights.

"But you know what will happen, no one will listen. There will be screaming matches, glares, and probably fisticuffs," he said in a statement. "I for one would gladly choose an airline that bans in-flight yakking over one that allows it."

The New York-London route is very lucrative and competitive.

British Airways and American Airlines have teamed up to offer up to 16 daily flights between the two cities. Virgin only offers five a day, with plans to soon expand to six.

Asked how his airline can compete, CEO Steve Ridgway said last week: "By offering better service."

This new phone service is part of a larger $160m upgrade of the airline's Upper Class cabin, although it will be also available to passengers in coach. Calls are not permitted during take-off or landing or within 400km of US airspace.

- AP

NEXT ON NEWS24 KENYAX

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Nechesa Chemoi752
Boniface Mwangi assaulted at City...

Human Rights activist Boniface Mwangi was arrested at City Hall as he allegedly tried to record an argument between him and a police officer guarding the building. Read more...

Submitted by
Nechesa Chemoi752
Cofek will seek to be enjoined in...

Cofek has said it will seek to be enjoined in a lawsuit filed by Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero against Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale. Read more...

Submitted by
Wekesa Wa Kisika
KRA boss summoned over smuggled J...

KRA Commissioner General, John Njiraini has been summoned by a Parliamentary committee to shed more light on claims that the controversial JKIA Apron passenger buses were smuggled into the country. Read more...

Submitted by
Jayne Zack
KUPPET warns Kaimenyoi against ap...

KUPPET has warned Education education Cabinet Secretary, Jacob Kaimenyi against appealing the court ruling that awarded teachers 50 to 60 percent salary increment. Read more...

Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
An easy solution to my problems

Most problems are easily solved by dealing with them early. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
MCA's to get three members of sta...

Members of County Assemblies MCA's will be allocated three members of staff each to ease their workload at Ward level. Read more...