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Virgin Atlantic recently announced that it is outfitting its A330 Airbus planes with AeroMobile, a technology that will provide up to six users at a time a network for quick in-flight cell phone calls and text messages.
Standard protocol during take off and landing will still be observed, including the requirement that electronic devices be shut down. Once airborne, though, "exceptional situations" will warrant the opportunity to phone or text home. Priced at about $1.50 per minute, passengers will certainly be encouraged to keep their conversations brief.
US law states that cell phones in use on commercial flights is strictly prohibited, so passengers will have to wait until they are over 250 miles out from US airspace before placing their calls. As of now, the AeroMobile service will only be available on New York to London flights, but if the system has positive feedback, Virgin Atlantic hopes to expand the service to over 20 planes on different routes around the world.
Joining the few Middle Eastern carriers as well as British Airways in the ranks of airlines that provide this sought after in-flight feature, Virgin Atlantic Chief Operating Officer Steve Griffiths noted that many passengers have pushed for cell phone availability in recent years, even if it's just for "sending an important message to the office, or even reminding a family member to feed the cat."
For now, only Vodafone and Telefonica's 02 networks will be supported by the in-flight technology, but hopes are that soon AeroMobile will roll out upgrades that will allow the rest of us to experience a cell phone call to earth from 40,000 feet.
Who will you call from the sky? Enjoy the convenience of a car rental in London when you touch down on your next Virgin Atlantic flight.