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Aussie travellers may be seeing some changes in the skies on their next flights to New York or other destinations when taking Virgin Atlantic. The airline will now allow certain passengers to make calls while in the air, - a decision that is being met with concern, praise and even annoyance. The idea is that so far, customers who have Vodafone or O2 networks will be permitted to use their phones after takeoff and before landing. Only 10 passengers can make calls at once, because the bandwidth used will be through general packet radio services (GPRS) thousands of feet above the ground.
One unique feature of taking a flight while heading out on holiday is that for a few hours, travellers are often disconnected from the world. Making phone calls have long since been banned from international flights unless passengers use the phones installed in the planes, which are rare and expensive.
"We have listened to what customers want and connectivity in the air is always on the wish list," said Greg Dawson, spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic. "Many people will have experienced that moment when you’re about to take off on a 10-hour flight and you need to send an important message to the office, or even reminding a family member to feed the cat."
Not all carriers agree that passengers are looking for ways to make calls while flying.Experts form Qantas say that they have considered in-flight call capabilities for their planes, but feel customers would not appreciate the additional chatter and distractions. A recent online poll conducted by The Telegraph had more than 1,800 answers to the question over calls on flights. Roughly 70 percent said they did not think mobile phone calls were the best idea, while another 30 percent support the decision of Virgin Atlantic.
Aussie travellers who need to conduct business while flying may like to make future plans with carriers that will allow phone calls in the air. However, those who are not privy to in-flight phone sessions can choose carriers that continue to ban cell phones for a quieter flying experience. Either way, technology will be quickly evolving they way people stay connected while on their holidays and business travel excursions, as seen in the new offering on Virgin Atlantic flights.
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