Virgin Atlantic Introduces Cell Phone Flights

Virgin Atlantic Introduces Cell Phone Flights

Virgin Atlantic passengers will soon be able to use their cell phones on select transatlantic flights, the airline announced this week. Calls and text messages will be allowed as part of the upgrade to the new Airbus A330:

Passengers flying between London and New York on Virgin’s new A330 Airbus will be able to not only make calls, but also to send and receive text messages, emails and have web access via GPRS. Via.

Currently, cell phone use will only be allowed on the London-New York route, and there are other limits, including network restrictions and steep service fees for calls and texting. In addition, only ten calls at a time are allowed—which will presumably limit aimless chitchatting but may potentially incite passenger hostility.

In fact, if internet commenters are any indication, the response to this development may not be all Virgin’s hoping for. Anyone who’s used public transportation knows how annoying it can be to listen to your neighbor’s one-sided conversation– what happens when you multiply that effect over a seven-hour flight?

However, the built-in limitations of this new feature raise the question of how this is different from existing in-flight options. Pay-as-you-go phones were were once embedded in headrests and went largely ignored for years and years. Plus, many airlines now offering Wi-Fi onboard—making services like Skype available—so haven’t we had in-flight telephone calls for decades now?