Hello!…Hello! : Now The Chattering Class Up In The Air!!!
It can get quite claustrophobic on long haul flights within the narrow confines of an aircraft. But to have fellow passengers blabbering away in their mobiles hundreds of miles high up in the air, is soemthing I am not really looking forward to. You can’t even walk away!
Like it or not, the prospect of being able to use mobile phones on aeroplanes is inching ever closer, says The Economist. Last week Ryanair, a European low-cost carrier, announced that it would equip its entire fleet of Boeing 737s with small base stations, called picocells, provided by OnAir, a technology company backed by Airbus, Europe’s aviation giant.
“But it is uncertain just how popular, and hence how lucrative, in-flight calling will be. The technical obstacles have been overcome and regulatory approval is expected soonâ€”at least in Europe. Regulators are expected to issue guidelines in the next few weeks defining which frequencies can be used and national aviation authorities will start certifying airlines’ installations early next year. OnAir says it expects its technology to be approved in time for Air France to launch in-air calling on an Airbus A318 in the first quarter of 2007.
“Mobile phones must still surmount social obstacles, however. Will people flock to airlines that offer in-flight calling, or avoid them? And how much will callers be prepared to pay? OnAir, its rival AeroMobile and other firms have conducted a series of surveys in an attempt to find out.
“According to the latest survey, released by OnAir this week, 80% of airline passengers approve of the idea of being able to use telephones on aircraft, even if they do not plan to do so themselves. Indeed, only 54% of business travellers and 41% of leisure travellers said they would switch their phones on during a flight.
“Another, more rigorous survey, carried out in America for the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, a flight attendants’ union, found that 63% of those polled thought the ban on in-flight calling should be maintained.
“Concern over noisy passengers shouting into their phones, cited by 68% of people, topped the list of objections; only 2% worried that the use of phones might somehow help terrorists. (The AFA-CWA’s objection to in-flight calling seems to be that it will make it harder for flight attendants to keep order.)”
Some epidemic this!