British Airways, a UK-based airline company, is to become Europe’s first air carrier to allow passengers to switch on their mobile phones soon after the airplane has landed.
The airline will introduce the amendment to current rules and enable passengers to operate their handheld mobile devices once the airplane has turned off the runway, following an instruction from cabin crew. This innovation will mean that passengers will no longer have to wait until the airplane has taxied to the gate and the doors have been opened before being permitted to switch their devices on. The ruling will include the use of I-pads, e-readers and Kindles as well as mobile phones.
The new ruling, which comes into being from July 1 and will apply to every British Airways flight that lands at any global destination, has only been made possible by BA proving to the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority that such devices can be used safely once the airplane is clear of the runway. However, the rule pertaining to such devices being banned from use for outbound passengers remains in force from when the aircraft leaves the departure gate until after take off and an instruction has been issued by cabin crew.
BA’s flight training manager, Ian Pringle, said, ‘Customers will no longer have the frustration of having to wait until their plane has arrived at the terminal building before being able to use their mobile phones and other handheld electronic devices. Now they’ll have that extra time to phone ahead for that important business meeting, check their emails, or make sure someone is there to meet them at the airport.’
Air travellers have expressed their rejection for use of mobile phones in flights, says a recent survey conducted by a UK-based flight comparison site, Skyscanner.
Around 86 percent of those polled said that it is ‘annoying to have to listen to other people’s conversations’, while only a small minority, of 1 percent of respondents, said that they are willing to pay more for seats in airlines which offer mobile calls.
Virgin Atlantic, an airline subsidiary of UK-based Virgin Group, is the first airline based in the UK to offer mobile phone calls during its flights from London to New York, US. The airline has priced the calls at GBP1.00 per minute, while text messages will be charged at GBP0.20 per message. The airline is yet to launch the service.
The Skyscanner travel editor, Sam Baldwin, said, ‘In a world where we are now almost always ‘on call’, it seems people don’t want to say good-bye to their last sanctuary of non-connectivity. Flying allows us to switch off for a few hours, both from our own calls, and other people’s. However, Virgin’s move into onboard mobile is the beginning of the end of the no-phone zone. I think it’s inevitable that within a few years, making mobile calls at 30,000 feet will be commonplace on all airlines.’
The recent survey also highlighted that if mobile phone use is made available in-flight, around 48 percent will be keen to send texts, 35 percent will use it to surf the Internet, 10 percent will send emails, and only 6 percent will be keen to make or receive calls.
Virgin Atlantic Airways, the UK-based airline operator, has become the first Britsh airline to provide access to mobile phone calls for passengers travelling on its new A330 aircraft, and has future plans to extend the service to its B747 aircraft.
Virgin Atlantic intends to have 20 aircraft fitted with the Aeromobile technology by the end of 2012, which will include B747’s that are currently undergoing AGBP50m refurbishment. Passengers in all cabins will be able to make and receive telephone calls, send and receive text messages and access e-mail and the Internet.
Customers choosing to use the service will be charged according to their individual provider’s international roaming rights, though this is currently restricted to 02 and Vodafone with whom the airline has signed agreements, so passengers on other networks will not be able to use the service initially.
Other usage restrictions include no connection while the airplane is taking-off and landing, and in order to comply with Federal restrictions, the service has to be disabled within 250 miles of US airspace.
The idea of passengers using mobile phones while sitting in adjacent seats will undoubtedly be a matter of trepidation for a proportion of travellers who expect rest and relaxation during lengthy flights. How Virgin Atlantic intend to deal with the possible nuisance aspect of in-flight phone calls is not yet known.
Uk-based airline, British Airways does already offer air mobile phone technology on flights to New York from London with its A318 Club World City, but phone calls are currently disabled and only e-mails and text messages can be sent and received.