Are you one of the business men or women that can't leave their phone even when flying? How long have you dreamed to be able to contact your business partners so you will be able to close deals much faster and to be online and aware of the things that happen all across the world every minute of your life no matter if you are at home, at your office or in-flight? Your wish might come true sooner than expected due to Emirates' airline decision to offer its passengers the opportunity to use their mobile handsets during the flights. This comes as a direct response to the Ryanair announcement, made in August this year, that plans to start delivering in-flight mobile telephony solutions on their air routes from mid-2007.
The Dubai-base airline has signed a deal of no less than 27 million $ with AeromMobile, a joint-venture between the mobile, aviation and satellite communication experts ARINCA and Telenor, a deal that will enable the Emirates to deliver complete voice and text phone services to all the passengers boarding their airplanes, services that will be charged with the same international roaming rates as for the usual calls or text messages.
Even if they will be allowed to use their cell phones in-flight, the people that will do it will have to respect some rules. The first one, a rule that is perceived more like an encouragement by the airline, is that you should switch your mobile phone to the silent profile or set it to vibrate instead of playing a ringtone when receiving a call or a message. The second one, which is a must, will permit the on-board crew to make sure that your phone is switched to the text-only profile if and when you are flying during the night. The third says that you won't be allowed to make more than 5 calls per flight so be sure to make the most important ones first (I don't know if this applies to the ones that you make and the ones that you get separately so you're on your own here).
Besides the usual voice and text services offered by any mobile carrier, Emirates is planning to add some GPRS data transfer and Internet connectivity sweetness, as soon as they will upgrade their satellite communication systems in the second half of 2007.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the Emirates Chairman and Chief Executive, has declared that "the option of mobile phone use will be available under guidelines that recognize and respect the privacy of all our customers. Our customers are already making more than 6,000 calls a month from our in-seat phones, so we will be making life easier for those for whom staying in touch using their mobile phone has become an indispensable part of their everyday lives. Our research tells us our customers would appreciate the option of staying in touch in this way."
Even if some people will have the time of their lives chatting all along the air ride, I'm pretty sure this will raise many critiques from the ones that perceive the airplanes as the last island of tranquility where cell phones haven't yet set signal. Most probably, this will be a technology applied very fast on the business flights all over the world which serve the phone needy managers and CEOs all over the world and later, if the case and the demand will justify it, on the airlines meant to fly carrying us, the usual mortals, from point A to point B. I'm almost 99% sure that the people that fly already have enough worries and don't want to add another one to the long list of problems that could make a plane to have an early meeting with the ground.
That is my opinion anyway so you are free to take it as you want it: a good news or a bad one, depending on your position regarding this subject.