Virgin Atlantic To Allow Some In-Air Mobile Phone Calls

If you are fan of the relatively chatter-free ambiance of the airplane cabin, this will probably not come as good news. On the other hand, if you’re someone who finds the whole “no cell phone calls from the plane” thing tiresome, this may brighten your day a bit.

Virgin Atlantic became the latest passenger airline to allow in-flight cellphone calls, after it announced that passengers on some flights from London to New York will have the option of using their wireless devices while up in the air.

But there are so many restrictions on cost, carrier and number of passengers that you need not fear having to spend your flight listening to one half of an endless phone call about what jerks the guys in the London office are and how people in the UK drive on the wrong side of the road.

First, the service will only be available on Virgin’s A330 Airbus planes, though the airline will begin retrofitting its Boeing 747s too.

Second, only people with service from O2 or Vodafone will have access to the wireless service. So your AT&T device won’t be of use.

Then there’s the cost. At $1.20/minute, you’d better have something important to say to the person on the other end of the phone.

Finally, only six passengers at a time can access the service, so even if they opened it up to all major carriers and brought down the price, you still won’t have an entire plane calling home to mom.

“The service is intended for use in exceptional situations, when passengers need to send an SMS, make a quick call, or access an e-mail on a BlackBerry,” the company said in a statement.

Virgin Atlantic launches in-flight cell use [Cnet]