SMS is the new black

A review of mass market mobile apps

Text not talk on planes

Posted by Admin on December 17, 2008

I picked this up from The Times on Monday – it says how the airline Bmi has decided to allow its passengers to send texts whilst aboard flights between Heathrow and Moscow, but not make voice calls. The service is being launched on a six-month trial basis.

Peter Spencer, managing director of Bmi, said: “The trial will help us address some of the social and etiquette issues regarding the use of mobile communications devices inflight and provide valuable customer feedback which will be at the heart of deciding how the service is developed and rolled out across the remainder of our mid haul fleet. We have chosen not to implement the voice call option as part of the trial.”

What this means is that data is connected (so you can browse using your phone or laptop/dongle combination), but the voice is turned off as the airlines are worried about the Dom Joly style “I’M ON THE PLANE” moments.

I think this is a smart move. Apart from Ryanair looking to make yet more money for a shoddy service (apparently some airlines are looking to charge £2 per minute for calls – I assume that would be Ryanair), the main reason for allowing mobile usage on flights I suspect is coming from business travellers wanting to stay ‘connected’. But the main objection is from passengers dreading the thought of being trapped on a plane with hundreds of inane calls to the office going on.

Well, this way they can keep both sets of people happy. Most business users would get more done if they stuck for text and email for the duration of the flight; while non-mobile consumers can keep the peace and quiet.


3 Responses to “Text not talk on planes”

  1. I think the problem isn’t voice calls – its ringtones, especially on night flights. This may well also be an issue for inbound SMS.

    Also, I’m not sure about the ability to use 3G dongles – most of the picocell solutions are 2G only, although I guess EDGE might be supported.


  2. smsisthenewblack said

    Dean – I agree that it’s the ‘noise’ of calls and incoming alerts that will cause disturbance. I almost always leave my phone on silent/vibrate that I forget it makes a noise! Also, I bow down to your greater network knowledge regarding 2G / 3G.

    My point is pretty much the same though – ‘silent’ data work seems like a good idea to me – but ‘noisy’ calls / alerts would annoy most passengers on a flight, including me.

  3. […] first reported on bmi’s plans in December and think this is a very good […]

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