Seems Emirates is first with in-flight mobile phones

Like any journalist worth his salt I’m always leery of using the word ‘first’ – as in the first time for anything to have allegedly happened. But it does rather look as if Emirates has become the first airline in the world to offer in-flight, mobile phone, voice calls.

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They’re using the service from AeroMobile – which in turn is owned by Arinc and Telenor.The service was launched on an Airbus A340-300 flying Dubai-Casablanca. But it seems it’s approved by EASA for European airspace as well, plus any overflown nations – which has been the stumbling block until now. A 777-300 has also been equipped.

If your reaction to this, like mine, is to say – “that’s not a first – it’s been done” – then I think we’re both wrong. The other trials that have been, and are being, conducted are for sms and/or e-mail only. In this case you can truly make voice calls with your own mobile. And in fact you can’t yet do the Blackberry GPRS email thing – although you should be able to later this year.

Whether it’s a good thing or not is a question much discussed of course, but I’ve always thought it was inevitable. The only specific etiquette rule that Emirates is implementing is that you leave your phone on ‘silent’ mode.

Incredible how long this whole thing has taken.

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