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Cell phones in-flight: Virgin announces plan to allow phones at 35,000-feet

Posted by Melanie Nayer  June 26, 2012 06:00 AM

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It's been a catch-22 debate for over a decade. If you could use your cell phone in-flight, there's a lot of work, catching-up and planning ahead that can be done before you reach your destination. But not using your cell phone during a flight has given workaholic travelers a nice break from being constantly reachable - any time, anywhere - not to mention the distraction it would cause other flyers. So where's the happy medium?

cell-phone-flying.jpgThere might not be one, but in this debate majority wins. More people want to use their cell phones in flight, therefore, more airlines are looking at ways at making that feasible.

According to a story in The Independent, Virgin Atlantic recently announced plans to allow in-flight mobile phone calls for passengers traveling between London and New York on the carrier's new A330 Airbus. The cell phone access at 35,000-feet will allow travelers to send and receive text messages, make phone calls and have web access to emails. The catch: it will also prove a great distraction to those guests who were hoping to get some quiet time on the long-haul flight.

The new Virgin Atlantic service will cost travelers approximately $1.50 (GBP 1) a minute for making calls and about 30 cents (20 pence) for sending text messages. The airline will limit the service to 10 people at a time because bandwidth is limited in the air. Additionally, the rule about not being allowed to use your phone during takeoff and landing stays in tact, and cell phones must also be turned off within a 250-mile radius of US airspace because of American laws.

Virgin Atlantic joins Ryanair and Emirates in the growing fleet of aircraft that are adopting new technology which allows travelers to make mobile phone calls on board.

London's The Independent reports that cell phones will eventually be permitted on Virgin's fleet of Boeing 747s and the airline predicts that 20 aircraft will be able to accommodate cell phone calls by the end of the year.

Readers: Voice your opinions! Are mobile phones in-flight a good idea, or an annoying distraction?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Melanie Nayer is a travel writer who spent many years in the newsroom before jetting off to see the world. Her goal is to bring readers the best insider information More »

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