Thursday, June 18, 2009

We Don’t Make ‘Em Up, We Just Report ‘Em

Coming soon to a country near you: In-flight cell phone use. The last two major holdouts in the UK cell phone industry – Vodafone and Orange – have agreed to let their subscribers use their mobiles on aircraft featuring the OnAir system.

A report in the UK TimesOnline says that the service will cost £2.50 per minute (about $4 currently). The article stresses that many mobile users could be shocked by a big phone bill, but the CEO of OnAir offers the best quote in the piece. “The British do not talk much, but the Italians talk a lot. It must be a cultural thing.”

For us, though, the scariest line from the article is this: “...British Airways will introduce the system for its service from London City Airport to New York this summer.” Currently, U.S. airlines have resisted implementing in-flight cell usage, but you could lose money betting that ban will last for long, with the airlines scraping for every cent they can make from fees and add-ons.

Prepare to say goodbye to whatever tiny trace of civility was left in the airline cabin.