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Virgin Atlantic to Allow Cell Phone Use on Planes

Not too long ago, airlines began offering in-flight WiFi, which meant people could Skype with family, friends, and co-workers at 38,000 feet. Now Virgin Atlantic is offering passengers the chance to communicate with people on the ground using something other than VoIP. The company is offering cell service to travelers on its new A330 Airbus flying between London and New York.

According to the Daily Mail, customers will be able to make calls, send and receive text messages, emails and access the web via GPRS. Signals are sent from a base station on the plane to a satellite before being relayed back to the ground. Customers won't be permitted to do any of the above during take off or landing and only 10 people at a time can make calls. Service also has to be switched off 250 miles from American air space due to U.S. laws.

Of course, you know this kind of cell service isn't going to be cheap and if you're thinking it would end up being just as expensive as roaming, you'd be right. London's Daily Mail writes that calls will cost £1 per minute, which is just shy of $1.60 per minute. Text messages will be charged at £0.20 a text, which is nearly $0.32.

While it will be nice to be able to send a 'I'm landing early, leave now!' text message to someone on the ground, not everyone is going to be excited at the prospect of listening to people talk on the phone in such a small space. Would you prefer to see phones left switched off during flight? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • chomlee
    Let me know when airplanes start to offer free wifi then I would use it.
    Reply
  • classzero
    Between the TSA, and poor customer service from airlines, I try not to fly. I would rather sit in a cargo hold on a shipping freighter if I had to go overseas.
    Reply
  • willard
    chomleeLet me know when airplanes start to offer free wifi then I would use it.Some airlines have been offering free WiFi for some time now.
    Reply
  • About 15 years ago, I was on a flight from NYC to Dallas. Those were the days of airline provided sat phone. The guy sitting next to me was on that phone for the entire flight - one call right after the other.

    How distracting! Flying used to be a time for contemplation - no longer.
    Reply
  • threefish
    willardSome airlines have been offering free WiFi for some time now.Really? Which airlines offer it for free? I'm going to have to start booking with them.
    Reply
  • dman3k
    Err... It's not free. You paid for the ticket.
    Reply
  • Miharu
    Really interresting. Last time I taked a plane from "United airlines", they had a "On demand" system with a touchscreen. I watched "The Big Bang Theory" and "Dexter" on the plane for free.
    The flight seem short and I really enjoy that.
    Open the GPRS seem on the same kind of "add value" for enjoy your ride.

    For the price, I do a 5 days cruise to Tamba, FL / Mexico / Tampa, FL. On that boat, they charge $1.99 per minute. The $1.60 per minute seem cheap to me (for a begin). This only could become cheaper with popularity.
    Reply
  • fightingslu
    planes should have talking and non-talking sections- and maybe make people take a test before the flight demonstrating that they can control they volume of their voice
    Reply
  • Nirvalica
    How is someone talking on the phone any different from someone talking to the person next to them? It's not any louder or more obnoxious....
    Reply
  • "How is someone talking on the phone any different from someone talking to the person next to them? It's not any louder or more obnoxious...."

    Because nobody is talking to their friends RIGHT NEXT TO YOU. Usually you hear some people talking in the distance, because they bought tickets together and are sitting next to each other. Even if it's one row up, there some distance. But imagine having someone about 12 inches from your head blabbing their mouth directly towards you. At least if they're talking to a friend their mouths and projecting the sound away from your ear. But on a cellphone, they are projecting straight forward or even in your direction. This would be VERY ANNOYING.
    Reply