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Old September 5th, 2007, 11:08 AM   #1
hkskyline
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Chatting Away on the Plane

Guess where I'm calling from
Are air passengers ready for the introduction of cellphone service within the cramped confines of a commercial flight?

5 September 2007
The Globe and Mail

For many air travellers, particularly frequent fliers, the time spent on a plane is a welcome break from a distracting world of e-mails and cellphones. For others, though, spending eight hours or more in a metal tube at 35,000 feet represents a lost workday, a frustrating period of isolation from business colleagues and customers that will have to made up somehow when they land.

These two camps are sure to clash this fall when a handful of airlines introduce in-flight e-mail and cellphone service in a test of both the economic viability and the social acceptability of the otherwise common technologies.

In Europe, where cellphone use is seen as some sort of God-given right – note the European Parliament's extremely popular decision in May to cap roaming charges – the European Aviation Safety Agency cleared the use of GSM telephone equipment aboard aircraft in July.

With that regulatory approval in hand, Air France communications manager for Canada Diane Audet says the airline plans to roll out cellphone service on a short-haul plane in the next few months, adding that it will be done in two phases: three months of text messaging, followed by three months of calls.

Irish discount carrier Ryanair says it will introduce a similar service by the end of the year on its planes.

In China, domestic carrier Shenzhen Airlines has just announced that it will offer cellphone capability on its entire fleet by mid-2009.

Like Air France and Ryanair, it will use technology developed by OnAir, which involves an antenna that runs the length of the airplane.

And Emirates airline, which will launch non-stop service from Toronto to Dubai on Oct. 29, is going ahead with its plans to eventually retrofit its entire fleet with in-flight technology by AeroMobile.

Patrick Brannelly, Emirates' vice-president of passenger communications and visual services, says the demand is there: The airline's passengers currently make about 6,000 calls a month from its seatback phones and that “the added convenience of being able to use one's own device versus the systems already in place at the seat is the main driving force” behind the new service.

Emirates plans to keep the charges in line with international roaming rates, and Brannelly says the airline has already received regulatory approval from 38 countries.

But North American air travellers shouldn't expect to see cellphones on domestic carriers any time soon.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Communications Commission in the United States recently upheld a ban on in-flight cellphone use, and Transport Canada continues to support a similar ban. Neither U.S. nor Canadian authorities are

convinced that cellphones cannot interfere with a plane's navigation or communication systems.

Transport Canada spokesperson Lucie Vignola says that while safety authorities can regulate and set the frequencies of cellphones and BlackBerrys, that doesn't mean the devices will always operate at those frequencies.

“In Canada, our regulations don't permit the use of any personal electronic devices – your wireless laptops, your cellphones, anything that transmits – because so many of them have different features, use so many different types of technologies. In a lot of cases, they're not properly maintained either. I myself drop my cellphone at least 10 times a day. So even though it's working for me, it is operating at a different frequency than the one it was supposed to,” she says.

“So, between all those issues, it's difficult to assess the effect on the aircraft.”

Such devices could also cause havoc if an unrelated problem should occur, Vignola says.

“On a plane with 200 people, everyone with their own cellphone … it can affect the communications between the aircraft, the flight crew and the air traffic control in terms of quality of communications. So if you're in an emergency situation, an emergency landing, you need to make sure that everyone can hear each other clearly. So that's also one of our concerns.”

Safety issues aside, Vignola can't imagine how cellphones will ever become acceptable within the cramped confines of a commercial flight.

“With 200 people on an aircraft, even if it's only 10 per cent of people talking on a cellphone, that's 20 people. I know I've experienced it on a bus, a couple of people talking loudly on their cellphones … At 40,000 feet, I can't imagine how loudly people would be talking on their cellphones.”

Etiquette expert Caroline Tiger, author of How to Behave: A Guide to Modern Manners for the Socially Challenged, agrees.

She doesn't see anything wrong with allowing passengers to access their e-mail or text message someone that their plane is going to be late, for instance.

In fact, such services have been available on commercial aircraft in the past, using a now-defunct system called Connexion, developed by aircraft manufacturer Boeing. The services were discontinued simply because not enough air travellers were willing to pay for them, not because they were a nuisance to other passengers.

But cellphones are something completely different, Tiger says.

“People need to be considerate of the comfort of everyone around them, which is why I think cellphone yammering should be kept to an absolute minimum in those kinds of places,” she says. “I don't see the need for cellphones on planes at all. I mean, we've gone this long without them.”

She adds that discussing business on a crowded airplane wouldn't be very prudent, either.

“I hear plenty of people on Amtrak trains from New York to D.C. or New York to Philadelphia discussing business. People seem to have a false sense of privacy when they're on their phones. You forget just how easily you can hear other people. You are even closer on a plane than any other form of transportation. That's why text messaging or any other form of communication that's inaudible is the way to go.”

For its part, Emirates says it will limit the number of cellphone users to six at a time, and the airline's first-class cabins feature private suites with pocket doors that should provide privacy for both cellphone users and other passengers.

Still, there's no denying that allowing cellphones on planes will be controversial, which explains why airlines are introducing them – and the expensive technology to support them – so cautiously.

Still stinging from the Connexion failure, German carrier Lufthansa backed off its plans to allow cellphones after its customers made it clear they were not welcome.

And Air France's Audet says passengers aboard the cellphone-enabled plane will be polled and the results analyzed before the airline retrofits any other planes.

As for Canadian carriers, Transport Canada's Vignola says there's simply no interest in pursuing the matter.

“Passengers aren't asking airlines, and airlines aren't asking us.”
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Old September 5th, 2007, 01:42 PM   #2
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Oh god, please no. I can't imagine chatterboxes on a 13 hour flight!
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Old September 5th, 2007, 01:52 PM   #3
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As far as I know, you can use satellite phones on the plane if you really need to make a call. But you have to dial the contury and district codes even if the plane is still on ground and you have to pay a lot of money to make a single call. It would be great if cellphones are allowed to use when the plane is flying without affecting the navigation system to minimize the cost.

Of course, it could be noisy at anytime on the plane afterwards!
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Old September 6th, 2007, 11:55 PM   #4
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I read somewhere that some airlines (don't remember which ones) will put special devices on their planes to let people send text messages over their cell phones. I think it's a smart move because people will be 'in touch' with their friends but also won't disturb other pax by talking loudly on the phone.
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Old September 7th, 2007, 12:01 AM   #5
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Yeah, no cell phone talking in the air....please.
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Old October 27th, 2008, 10:22 AM   #6
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Travelers flying out of Cleveland can use cell phones as boarding pass under pilot program
26 October 2008
Associated Press Newswires

Airline passengers are using their iPhones and BlackBerries as their boarding pass in Cleveland and at nine other airports around the country.

The federal pilot program started at Hopkins International Airport on Thursday.

Instead of a paper ticket, passengers can download their boarding passes to their cell phone from their airline's Web site. The electronic pass includes a bar code with encrypted flight information and passenger identification. Security and airline officials then scan the pass at the airport.

Continental, Northwest, Delta or Alaska airlines are taking part in the program, and Transportation Security Administration spokesman Jon Allen says officials hope to add more airports within the next year.
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Old October 28th, 2008, 04:28 AM   #7
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cell phones should already work on planes

I heard the reason why they don't allow it is the cell phone signals bounce around too much so the cell phone companies cannot charge you for the calls you make while on the airplane
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Old October 28th, 2008, 06:37 AM   #8
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Why people doesn't like that the passangers used the cell phones on the airplane?
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Old October 29th, 2008, 08:18 AM   #9
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cause they are so close

do you really want to sit on an 8 hour flight having to sit there and letsen to someone talk and laugh and go on and on about crap
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Old October 29th, 2008, 09:56 PM   #10
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I'd be furious after listening to people babble through a whole flight.
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Old October 30th, 2008, 07:05 AM   #11
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Usually if I fly long-haul then they should have some sort of in-flight entertainment so I'll be in my headphones and not be able to hear my neighbour chat on the phone. Nevertheless, it'll be quite annoying if people are chatting away during the flight.
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 06:12 PM   #12
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Qantas hangs up on in-flight calls
2 August 2010
The West Australian

Qantas has poured cold water on the prospect of passengers using mobile phones on its planes in the near future.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority last week gave the green light for mobiles to be used during flights, but a Qantas spokesman said the reliability of the equipment required was still of concern.

Before mobiles can be used, airlines must install a pico-cell base station on each plane so that mobiles do not send out powerful signals searching for ground stations that has been proven by British authorities to interfere with aircraft navigation systems.

Much debate has surrounded the use of mobiles on planes.

In 2003, the British Civil Aviation Authority published its finding of a comprehensive study using avionics equipment and mobiles in a range of frequency bands.

It found a range of anomalies at interference levels above 30 volts/metre, a level that can be produced by a mobile operating at maximum power and located 30cm from the equipment or wiring harnesses in cabin sidewalls.

The types of anomalies include interference with landing and navigation instruments.

The British study also found 35 incidents between 1996 and 2002 where mobile phones were factors in false warnings of unsafe conditions, such as cargo smoke alarms.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has reported 100 incidents in the past 10 years relating to interference from mobile phones and personal electronic devices that it found was at the root of 35 per cent of passenger behaviour incidents.

Professor Andrew Monk, from the University of York in Britain, conducted a survey on the use of mobiles and found that bystanders rated mobile conversations as dramatically more noticeable, intrusive and annoying than conversations conducted face- to-face.

The study found that while volume was an issue, hearing only half a conversation was also a major irritant.

A study commissioned by the US Association of Flight Attendants found that 63 per cent opposed the lifting of mobile phone restrictions on commercial planes and 70 per cent wanted separate non-phone seating sections if the mobile phone ban was lifted.
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Old August 20th, 2010, 05:52 AM   #13
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ANALYSIS-U.S. inflight cell phone use faces uphill battle

CHICAGO, Aug 17 (Reuters) - A battle is brewing in the court of public opinion and in Congress over whether U.S. airplane passengers should be allowed to use cell phones in flight as many foreign airlines now permit but which critics say is unsafe and annoying.

Advocates of in-flight cell phone hope to overturn bans that they say are outdated, unfair and do nothing to promote safety in the skies.

Their opponents, however, argue that radio signals from cell phones could disrupt key airplane functions. They are also quick to note that the incessant yapping of loud and inconsiderate cell phone users would make flights unbearable for flyers who prefer quiet.

Some lawmakers want to ban cell phone use in U.S. air space permanently. But at least one travelers' rights group sees a day when the United States and U.S. airlines will follow examples set in Europe and other places where cell phone calls are permitted on flights.

"The point is it works in the international market," said Carl Biersack, executive director of Inflight Passenger Communications Coalition.

"It doesn't need a legislative ban. It needs the regulators to do their thing," Biersack said. "It's a market that I think Americans want."

Two government agencies have banned the use of cell phones on U.S. commercial flights.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration says cell phones and other portable electronic devices may give off radio signals that can affect aircraft communications, navigation and flight control. The risk is higher when the signals are in large quantities and for long durations, the FAA says.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission banned inflight cell phone use in 1991 to avoid interference with ground networks.

Meanwhile, a group of legislators, including Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, has included a provision in the House-passed FAA reauthorization bill that would prohibit cell phone use on planes by anyone other than flight crews or law enforcement personnel.

The provision is not included in the Senate version and prospects are remote that Congress will pass legislation this year authorizing permanent funding for FAA programs.

The Air Transport Association, which represents U.S. airlines, has says that if allowed by the FAA, it would be a carrier-by-carrier decision whether to allow passengers to talk on cell phones in flight. This stance is almost identical to the one taken by the International Air Transport Association.

POTENTIAL SAFETY HAZARDS

"There are still unknowns about the radio signals that portable electronic devices and cell phones give off," the FAA said in a 2009 statement.

The FAA allows passengers to turn on most portable electronic devices -- excluding cell phones -- once the plane reaches 10,000 feet. At that altitude, it is the airline's decision whether to allow the use of devices that are not specifically restricted.

But critics of the ban say that cell phones pose no safety risk to airplanes.

"I don't think anyone has said it's unsafe. They have not been asked to say it is safe," said Biersack.

The FAA has not specifically said cell phones are dangerous to planes. But Boeing Co, the world's second-largest commercial airplane maker, recommends "prohibiting the use of devices that intentionally transmit electromagnetic signals, such as cell phones, during all phases of flight."

Several governments, including the European Union, have OKd inflight cell phone use in their air space.

The EU approved the practice in 2008, and several carriers including Ryanair Holdings Plc and bmi, which is part of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, have tested or installed the instruments that make cell phone calls possible from planes.

YAKETY YAK

Some experts say U.S. cell phone bans have more to do with ensuring quiet, peaceful flights than they do with safety.

Terry Trippler, a travel expert at rulestoknow.com, said that unfettered cell phone use during flights would be a major nuisance to passengers who prefer quiet.

"If it were brought to a vote, it would be defeated. Cell phones would be banned permanently on airplanes," he said. "The airline is one place I think they'll draw the line."

Some airlines now give passengers access to electronic communication during flights without allowing phone calls.

AMR Corp's American Airlines and Delta Air Lines Inc offer Internet access via Aircell's Gogo service, which some see as a quiet alternative to cell phone chatter.

But Biersack says it is still unfair to ban cell phones based on their potential to annoy. He noted that inflight calls would be infrequent and brief if only because of the high cost. Furthermore, airlines could determine when phone calls would be permitted and in which rows, he said.

Finally, he noted that there are plenty of other legal annoyances -- like crying babies or barking dogs -- on flights, so there is no point in singling out this one.

"There's always going to be a rude person," he said. "But the rest of us live by the norms. We know what to do." (Reporting by Kyle Peterson, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)
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Old November 3rd, 2013, 02:59 PM   #14
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U.S. to allow expanded electronic device use on flights

WASHINGTON, Oct 31 (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Thursday it will allow airlines to expand the use of portable electronic devices in flight.

The agency said it is immediately providing airlines with guidance for implementation, the time frame for which is expected to vary among carriers.

"Passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions," the FAA said.

The move would still prevent use of mobile phones for voice communications on flight. That issue is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission.
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Old August 28th, 2014, 08:43 PM   #15
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Australia's Qantas, Virgin allow smartphones throughout flights

SYDNEY, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Australian airlines Qantas Airways Ltd and Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd said passengers can use smartphones and tablets throughout flights from Tuesday after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices on planes.

The airlines said they would start letting passengers use personal electronic devices for the duration of their flight after Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority followed a similar ruling from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in 2013.

The Australian airlines will hope giving customers almost continuous access to personal devices will increase their appeal as they engage in a price war with each other and other market participants. Currently, passengers are forced to switch off devices until the plane reaches cruising altitude.

The two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week.

"We're delighted to give Qantas customers the freedom and flexibility to use their personal electronic devices from the moment they board the plane until they disembark," Qantas Domestic chief executive officer Lyell Strambi said in a statement.

Virgin Australia chief customer officer Mark Hassell said the high number of passengers who travel with a smartphone or tablet shows "how valuable gate-to-gate access is to their overall travel experience".
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Old September 2nd, 2014, 12:56 AM   #16
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I think text messaging/whatsapp is more than enough...
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Old September 2nd, 2014, 12:32 PM   #17
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Come fly in China, the entire flight is people blasting movies and shows from their phones and tablets. Headphones? Of course not!

I fly in China a lot, and recently every flight is a cacophony of game shows, talk shows, kids cartoons, anti-Japanese war epics, sword fight movies etc.

I can't wait until they get cell service here. Then every few minutes will be WEIIIIIIII!!!!!
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Old September 2nd, 2014, 07:17 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Severiano View Post
Come fly in China, the entire flight is people blasting movies and shows from their phones and tablets. Headphones? Of course not!

I fly in China a lot, and recently every flight is a cacophony of game shows, talk shows, kids cartoons, anti-Japanese war epics, sword fight movies etc.

I can't wait until they get cell service here. Then every few minutes will be WEIIIIIIII!!!!!
China civil aviation rules forbid the use of mobile devices on aircraft at any time.
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Old September 3rd, 2014, 08:15 AM   #19
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And like all the rules in China, everyone follows them perfectly.
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Old September 5th, 2014, 10:38 PM   #20
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If I've got my Shure noise isolating in ears and my 13,000+ song iPod I'm happy for people to chat and such. However I'm not totally happy with mobile phones, yes technology is getting better and such, my point of view id rather have no phones on a flight where people can chat on.

However, if people want to message on WhatsApp/iMessage or browse the web via WiFi, id be happy to pay a premium for a WiFi password for my plane, even if it was £19.99 per flight as thats what Carriers would rip you off to i guess. If it brought a large Carrier an extra £2,500 a flight, I'm sure they wouldn't really mind. If Carriers could get an extra £100m a year profit via WiFi passwords I'm pretty sure they would be happy for the larger carriers.

Lets see where technology and research takes us.
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