For a few months now, Air France has been testing in-flight data and cell-phone service on one of its planes. (I flew on one of the cell-phones-allowed flights and wrote about it in my Well-Mannered Traveler column on MSNBC.com.)
Now comes word that passengers on at least one TAP Portugal plane can send and receive e-mail and make flying phone calls as well. The airline has equipped a single Airbus A319 aircraft with the Mobile OnAir service and will test that service for six months.
On the test plane – and perhaps eventually on all TAP Portugal flights across Europe – passengers can use BlackBerry-type devices and mobile phones to send and receive emails and text messages, and to make and receive voice calls.
Now that summer travel is in full swing, I bet Gregg Rottler will be getting lots of e-mail.
Rottler gathers tales of air travel woe and posts them, neatly and without editorial comment, on his Web site: Flights from Hell.com.
He does it partly to give frustrated travelers someplace to share some truly outrageous stories, but he also offers readers lots of “Wow, I’m glad-it-wasn’t-me” entertainment.
Story categories run the gamut from animals and babies (separate topics) to odors, weird people, and the ever-popular ‘reclining seats.”
Looking to the future, Rottler recently posted a link to some of my recent MSNBC.com Well-Mannered Traveler columns about in-flight cell phone use: a topic that may someday earn a spot on the Flights from Hell top-ten list.
More than 2800 people have voted, so far, in the survey about in-flight cell-phone service that accompanies one of my recent Well-Mannered Traveler columns on MSNBC.
The results? 64% say “In-flight text and e-mail service is great, but please no phone calls!”
So I’m not that surprised at the results of a recent Harris survey conducted by Yahoo! on the same subject:
74% of the 2,000 consumers polled for that survey say “mobile phone usage on airplanes should be restricted to features that do not require talking.”
But never say never: The survey showed that “If usage of mobile phones was allowed while in-flight, more than two out of three (69 percent) consumers agreed that there should be a designated area of an airplane for passengers who want to talk on their mobile phones.”
For more numbers and details see the full Yahoo release.
Would you put up with a seat mate who spends the entire flight on the phone?
“No way,” was the response of most everyone who weighed in after reading my recent Well-Mannered Traveler column on MSNBC.com about an Air France plane that allows in-flight calls. See what they said and add your vote to the survey.
What does a World Bank economist flying to Morocco have in common with a young couple jetting home to Switzerland from Paris?
A fear of seat mates with cell-phones.
Air France is testing cell-phone service on one of its airplanes. I had a chance to fly on that plane last week and interviewed passengers about what they thought of that service.
Find out what they said in my Well Mannered Traveler column posted today on MSNBC.com and vote on whether or not you’d like to be able to make in-flight phone calls.
Through the end of June, Air France is testing cell-phone service on one of its A318 airplanes.
Passengers boarding this plane don’t know cell-phone service is available until a flight attendant makes an announcement or they look in the seat back pocket and find this laminated notice.
Um.. unless someone has taken it home as a souvenir.
New European Union (EU) rules make it likely that travelers will be able to place cell phone calls on flights in EU airspace as soon as this summer. Air France is already testing such a service on one “cell-phones-allowed” plane that I got to fly on yesterday between Paris and Geneva.
Technically, the service isn’t quite ready-for-prime-time, but passengers I spoke with were just fine with that. “No way do I want to listen to someone talking on their cell phone next to me on a plane,” one man told me, “I hope this never gets going.”
Will in-flight cell-phone service be offered in the United States anytime soon? Not if some lawmakers have their way. Read about their plan to ban in-flight cell-phone service forever in my Well-Mannered Traveler column on MSNBC.com.
Since December 2007 Air France has been testing a service that allows travelers to use their cell phones in-flight for communication services that include SMS and e-mail, but not for voice-calls.
As of today, travelers can also use their cell-phones to make and receive voice calls – but only on one Airbus A318 that’s used for various routes in Europe.
Seat-back leaflets and cabin crew announcements will let travelers know if they’re on the “lucky flight.” Feedback will be gathered to determine if customers prefer data only or data and voice.
For now, the system allows the downloading of email attachments, unlimited SMS and emails, and up to six simultaneous calls. But OnAir, the company providing the service, says adding phone call capacity is easy.
Hopefully not too easy….
For more information, read the Air France press release.