JetBlue CEO Interested In In-flight Text Messaging

David “Mortified” Neeleman, CEO of JetBlue stopped apologizing for long enough to express interest in in-flight text messaging, according to CNET:

David Neeleman, founder and chief executive of JetBlue, said text communications could prove attractive but agrees with the misgivings of many U.S. airline executives about the onboard use of cell phones for voice calls.

A representative for JetBlue told Silicon.com that in-flight text messaging could happen in the near future and that if the company allows cell phones on its flights, then they will only be used as “silent options”–meaning passengers would be allowed to send and receive text messages and listen to voice mail, but incoming and outgoing calls would be barred.

Perhaps we’re dumb but doesn’t listening to voicemail require…calling your voicemail? Anyway, the article doesn’t mention how this system will work. Honor system? Please guys, txt only, for reals. —MEGHANN MARCO

In-flight texts to take off in the U.S.? [CNet]
(Photo:JohnKit)

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  1. timmus says:

    That picture has “Name This Caption” written all over it.

  2. Coder4Life says:

    Yeah.. No voice at all..

    Pretty soon you’ll have peopel whispering sweet nothings into their phone as no one around them will realize that they are on the phone.

    Just like in classrooms you can text but can’t pick up phoen calls. You always get some moron that sits there and whispers in the phone. “ANNOYING”

  3. arachnophilia says:

    because really, cell phones pose no danger whatsoever to airplane telemetry (or anything else). all of the wires, even on small cheap personal planes, are sheilded very, very well against electromagnetic interference of any kind.

    they tested this on mythbusters, and while they couldn’t actually place calls while the phone was in the air (it’s ILLEGAL), they did test it on the ground using every known cell phone signal, at several thousand times the strength it would normally have. and nothing. the FAA person at the end reported that the only reason it remains illegal for all phones is that cellphone technology is evolving so quickly that it’s best to keep it illegal as a precaution. who knows what technology that might be developed next month, and how it will interact with airplanes?

    so what’s the difference between txt messaging/voicemail and actually talking on the phone? opening your mouth.

  4. B says:

    It’s my understanding that the riskiest time is when a call is first received, a high-intensity burst is sent out to find the closest cell-tower and initiate the call. So, no matter if the phone is silent, as long as it can receive calls, the risk of crashing the plane is there. I don’t know if a cell phone can be set to receive text but not calls.

  5. Triteon says:

    Im dlayd on ur tarmac textin ur CEO

  6. FreakyStyley says:

    @Triteon: LMAO!

  7. Nick says:

    I think it’s a wonderful idea! With unlimited text and picture messaging, this sounds like a great way to pass the time.

    This is definitely doable. This is how I see it working: The plane would have a device acting like a cell “tower” that your phone connects to (sidenote: Qualcomm is one the proponents already making such miniature cell sites for airplanes). This device could limit what types of communication were allowed (e.g., block incoming calls but allow text messaging) and if calls were allowed decide which numbers phones could call (e.g., allowing you to only dial out to the service provider’s voice mail number).


    Qualcomm Press Release dated 8/5/2005:

    The companies have performed a series of test flights that successfully demonstrated the simultaneous use of CDMA and GSM mobile phone technology over an on-board network … Using standard cellular communications, a small in-cabin CDMA2000 and GSM “picocell,” or small cellular base station, is connected to the worldwide terrestrial network by an air-to-ground satellite link.

  8. pete says:

    Think about it people, how annoying are other people’s ringtones?
    Now imagine being trapped on a plane sitting next to someone whose phone is blaring out a ringtone every thirty seconds.
    Now imagine 50 other people in the same plane doing the same thing.
    It quickly becomes a crowd-control issue…

  9. pete says:

    Oh yeah, I forgot -
    getoffmylawnyoudamnkids

  10. pestie says:

    @arachnophilia: You sure about that? I used to fly small planes, and while I didn’t make a habit of disassembling the planes I flew, I’m pretty sure most of the avionics wiring is unshielded.

    In any case, while there is almost no evidence of cell phones interfering with avionics, there is supposedly a problem with the signal from a cell phone at 33,000 feet being received by entirely too many cell towers on the ground at once, which would cause a major congestion problem for the cell phone companies if phones were used on planes.

  11. arachnophilia says:

    @pestie: *shrug* email mythbusters and ask. either way, the commercial ones are well shielded. not sure at all about the other problems.

  12. Amy Alkon says:

    Cell phones interfere with a flight when a passenger listening to some moron bark into theirs leaps up and strangles the asshat.

  13. shdwsclan says:

    UMM, by the way, cell phones DO NOT interfere with modern aircraft equipment.

    Old aircraft equipement, yeah, sure, seen it happen before on an old cessna…..but using cellphones on a lear jet will not interfere with equipment, and thats both TDMA an CDMA frequence, neither will wifi a, b, g, n. Tested it myself, we never lost the airport beacon, and we were flying in a storm, blind.

    Ive also seen it mythbusters, but they couldnt SHOW the plane in the with the phones and transmission equipment on…..and they used an amplifier….to boost the signal 100x or something…

  14. belch says:

    That isn’t even a JetBlue airplane! Nice try Consumerist, you can’t fool me.

  15. tvh2k says:

    Agreed, I’m pretty sure wires are unshielded on Cessna 172/182s. Might have improved on the new glass cockpit models.

    The cell phone problem will be a lot less of an issue than most people think. I ride a train to work all the time and while only an hour ride, only maybe 1 in 20 people ever use their cell phone for voice calls. Most are checking email on a blackberry or reading news online, but few on the phone. Plus, its much less annoying than your think–you just tune them out. People just need to get with the times.