Say Hello From 35,000 Feet Up In The Air


Imagine being able to talk on your phone from tens of thousands of miles up in the air. Well, good news for those of you who are almost surgically attached to your phones- Virgin Atlantic will now make talking-while-flying possible. The airline, the first British airline to do so, will now allow customers to make calls with their own cellphones, provided they’re on the airline’s new Airbus A330 flying between London and New York. By 2012, the service is expected to be expanded to about 20 planes in Virgin Atlantic’s fleet.

In 2008, Dubai-based Emirates became the first carrier to allow passengers to use their personal cellphones and a handful of other airlines in the Middle East including Oman Air and Royal Jordanian now have similar services. Virgin Atlantic’s new service is part of a $161 million upgrade to the Airbus A330, which includes a new upper class cabin, improved touchscreens for the in-flight entertainment and USB ports for charging devices.

The service will undoubtedly come handy to business travellers (it is indeed aimed at them) who can’t afford to be out of range at any time. Passengers will also be able to send and receive text messages, as well as browse the web, albeit slowly, using AeroMobile’s GPRS data.

However, this facility doesn’t come cheap- one call will cost about the same as an international roaming call- and in intended only for those in exceptional situations. And, you’ll need an O2- or Vodafone-compatible handset. You’ll still have to turn off your phone during take-off and landing, plus American law says phones must be turned off within 250 miles of US airspace.

Also, if you want to make a phone call, you might have to fight for it, as the airline says that due to limited bandwidth, only 10 people will be able to make calls at the same time.

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