Emirates first to Offer Inflight Calls

Thursday, March 20, 2008 | | |

Emirates Airlines announced yesterday that passengers will not only no longer have to switch off their phones but also be allowed to make calls and text people from the sky.

The airline announced that the first authorized mobile telephone call from a commercial flight was made yesterday at 30,000 feet from an Emirates Airbus A340-300 aircraft traveling from Dubai to Casablanca.

The aircraft is the first in the airline’s fleet to be fitted with the AeroMobile system, which ensures mobile telephones operate at minimum power during flights so as to not interfere with aircraft electronics.

“Our customers are already making more than 7,000 calls a month from our in-seat phones, so we will be making life easier for those for whom staying in touch has become an important part of their everyday lives,” said Sheikh Ahmed ibn Saeed Al-Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline.

Passengers will be allowed to make five or six calls per flight. The service will only be activated when the aircraft is at cruising altitude and the cabin crew will have full control over the system, including the ability to prevent voice calls at certain times such as during night flights.

In addition to calls, the service will also allow passengers to send and receive text messages, with charges in line with premium international roaming rates. Users will be billed on their regular phone bills by their own service providers as with any other roaming call.

The airline announced that it would be investing some $27 million to fit its fleet with the new system. A second Emirates aircraft, a Boeing 777-300, has already been installed with the AeroMobile system and will be in operation very shortly.

Over the past 18 months, Emirates and AeroMobile have worked closely with regulators and telecommunications providers across the globe, fully completing rigorous testing and certification processes.

Now that the problem of using mobile phones in flight will become a thing of the past, what about the annoyance of ringtones going off constantly, interrupting your uncomfortable sleep?

Emirates cabin staff will encourage passengers to switch their phones to silent or vibrate mode when in use in the aircraft