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Airline Survey


Where we stand on in-flight mobile phone calls

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May 27, 2008

Air France

Currently testing OnAir mobile phone technology on one Airbus A318 aircraft, which flies within Europe. Air France claims to be the first airline to test in-flight mobile phone useage on international flights.

Tests started in mid December with text messages and emails only and was extended to voice calls from mid-April, and will run until June/July.

The trial includes questionnaires that are distributed among passengers to gauge reaction to the service. The results from this survey will influence whether the service is continued beyond this summer.

So far, more than 80 per cent of passengers have been in favour of the text and email services, according to the airline. Results of the reaction to the voice calls will be collated this summer.

Air Malta

No plans to allow mobile phone calls in-flight.

American Airlines

No plans to allow mobile phone calls inflight owing to current US Federal Communication Commission regulations that prohibit the use of mobile phones in-flight.

Currently testing technology on selected domestic US flights that allows customers to use data features of wi-fi enabled phones and PDA devices. This is for text data only, not spoken calls.

BA

Currently does not allow customers to use mobile phones onboard in case they interfere with the aircraft's avionics.

BA spokesman told Times Online: “Even if the CAA allowed the use of new mobile phone technology on British aircraft we would have to think very carefully about whether or not we want to allow customers to use them onboard as it could devalue the whole customer experience. We will be led by customer feedback in this matter.”

He added: “We have carried out some preliminary surveying of passengers from our Executive Club. One option which has been regarded favourably is texting rather than spoken conversations.”

BMI

Bmi will shortly begin testing mobile phone useage on one UK aircraft.

A spokesman told Times Online: “The important thing to bear in mind is that we will be trialling the system and the purpose of that trial is to establish what will and won’t work – nothing is set in stone.

"We will take a common-sense approach and customer feedback will be at the centre of if and how the system is eventually used.

“The technology we are using gives us the flexibility to turn off voice capability, so nobody should be making the assumption that voice calls will form part of the trial. We have identified that many customers would appreciate being able to use SMS messaging and PDA emails whilst onboard and this is where our main interest lies.”

He added: “Our policy on the etiquette of how devices are used is still being finalised, but our objective will be to minimise disruption or annoyance to customers who don’t want to use the service, whilst making it easy for those who do.”

Cathay Pacific

No current position on allowing mobile phone calls in-flight.

easyJet

No plans to allow mobile phone calls in-flight.

A spokeswoman added: “We have had detailed discussion about mobiles but we are not planning to introduce them onboard. It’s a combination of there not being enough money in it and we think there would be an adverse passenger experience. EasyJet will obviously still continue to monitor the market and the subsequent technological developments.”

Emirates

Launched mobile phone useage in-flight on March 20 on flights between Dubai and Casablanca. There are plans to roll out the service across the Emirates fleet.

According to Emirates, feedback from passengers has been positive.

A spokesman added: “However, as the service is still in its infancy, we don’t have any substantial market research as yet. We haven’t received any negative feedback, though – Emirates passengers are already well used to communicating whilst in the air, and make over 7,000 calls a month from the at-seat phone system.”

Flybe

No plans to allow mobile phone calls in-flight, and has seen little demand for it from passengers.

A spokesman added: “However, given Flybe’s strong popularity with business travellers and our keenness to innovate, we will continue to take mobile phone technology and customer opinion seriously. We will review its introduction for everything from basic onboard usage, SMS and mobile phone check in, SMS flight booking and flight updates.”

JAL

In-flight mobile phone use has not been approved by the Japanese government, so the carrier has no plans to trial the technology, but plans to gauge customers' views on the subject in the future.

Qatar Airways

Despite equipping its fleet of 62 aircraft with mobile-communications technology, the airline says it will ban in-flight mobile phone calls owing to a survey of passengers that showed 80% were against the service.

“We don’t want people to start speaking loudly in the cabin on a night flight,” said Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar al Baker. “I am sure other airlines will introduce it, but, in time, they will turn it off.”

Ryanair

Ryanair plans to introduce an in-flight calling service on 25 of its fleet from June.

SAS

SAS is currently running new tests in Norway on mobile phone useage but it is not widely available yet.

Virgin Atlantic

No plans to allow mobile phone calls onboard.

A spokeswoman told Times Online: “We will continue to monitor the developments in onboard mobile phone use and technology.

“We will look into how it is developing and how it is accepted with other carriers and if we do bring it in we will do it in the most socially acceptable way. We’re not convinced this is something that passengers want.”

travel.timesonline.co.uk

Where we stand on in-flight mobile phone calls
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