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In-flight calls , boon or bane

While US airlines have shunned the use of cell phones in flight , mainly because their passengers are not too keen to let go off one last phone-free sanctuary - some European and Middle East carriers are preparing to offer the service as early as this summer . Regulators in Brussels have given the green light to the airlines , setting up a commom licensing arrangement . Air France hopes to be among the first ,beginning an experiment to determine whether European travelers  will  appreciate the convenience or take offence against having to sit beside a garrulous passenger .


 But the service is still facing a lot of problems .The technology, which allows cell phone users to make and receive calls through an on board base station linked to a satellite , delivers a patchy quality that restricts lengthy  in-flight calls . Also to be taken into account are the rather steep roaming charges of up to three euros ($4.72) a minute .


On a recent Air France test flight between Paris and Vienna  , mobile calls made using this technology generally allowed passengers to connect to ground phones after a couple of tries .

Calls made from the ground to the plane ,however, tended to go directly to voice mail. To avoid interfering with the aircraftâℬ™s equipment ,only a handful of passengers could get a signal at one time  OnAir , the company that supplies the technology , said that the number would soon double once technology improved .BlackBerry users trying to download email found themselves against a  blank wall .


Meanwhile ,Lufthansa, Europeâℬ™s second largest carrier , said that its passengers are not too keen  on this facility as they would rather have a quiet flight  , especially those who have to go directly for business meetings .


Source : Gulf News


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