Virgin Atlantic becomes first carrier to allow mobile calls

Hotel News - 14/05/2012

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Virgin Atlantic has announced it will soon allow customers to receive and make mobile phone calls whilst in flight.

The UK-based Sir Richard Branson enterprise said on Monday that passengers will be able to use mobile devices for calls as well as SMS messages onboard some flights via special technology set to be installed on its aircraft this year.

Those travelling on Airbus A330 aircraft between New York and London will be the first to benefit from the new facilities, carrier officials said. Later in the year, Virgin’s Boeing 747s, which are currently undergoing refurbishments worth some £50 million, will also offer the service. Virgin said that by the end of 2012 around 20 planes in the current fleet will feature in-flight calling capabilities in all cabins although the service is aimed to target business travellers.

Passengers will not be able to make calls within 10 minutes of takeoff or landing, whilst unchanged laws in the United States mean that passengers will be required to disable calling within 250 miles of US airspace.

Sources say the service will cost £1 per minute.

Virgin Atlantic’s chief operating officer, Steve Griffiths, said in an interview that the technology would be crucial for the moments when passengers are a short way into a 10-hour flight and remember they need to send an important reminder to family or to the office.

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