Last week, I wrote about how United Airlines is asking flight attendants to enforce its no phone call policy. United says it blocks voice and video calls over its WiFi, but the airline admits savvy customers can easily get around that limitation.
On my Facebook page and here in the blog comments section, some of you admitted you have to made calls recently on flights. In many countries, this is legal and common, but U.S. airlines generally ban calls. Those of you who have placed calls on U.S. airlines, in violation of the rules, report other passengers don't seem to mind.
Now, I've read that Swiss International Air Lines will allow passengers to place calls on the new Boeing 777-300ERs the carrier will soon deploy from Zurich to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Los Angeles, San Francisco, São Paulo and Tel Aviv. The airline, which says it will offer phone service in response to requests from customers, says it will test the program for one year and see if passengers like it.
"The prices of these services will be set by the corresponding contractual agreements between AeroMobile (the provider of these inflight phone options) and the customer’s phone service provider," Swiss said in a release. "SWISS will be closely monitoring this one-year trial phase, and will be carefully assessing any and all feedback from its customers."
Swiss will also have WiFi, but I believe this system will operate separately. As on United, though, I am sure savvy customers will be able figure out how to make calls without accessing the official phone system. However, Swiss is going to be charging for WiFi based on how much Dara you use, so making a call through the Internet could be expensive. The most data - 120 MB - will cost 39 Swiss Francs, or about $40.
I'm interested in more of your views about in-flight calls. Would it bother you if your seatmate started a long conversation on an overseas flight?
Some of you mentioned that, in the 1990s, Airfones were ubiquitous on U.S. flights, though considering how expensive they were, I am not sure how many passengers used them besides employees on expensive accounts. The new technology makes calls a lot cheaper, so more people may use it.