Virgin Atlantic has announced that users of certain carriers (T-Mobile here in the US, and Europe’s O2 and Vodafone) will be able to make calls while flying on specific flights.
The new policy went into affect yesterday. According to the company, calls will be limited to international flights between NY and London, on Virgin Atlantic’s new Airbus A330-300 planes and refitted Boeing 747s. By the end of the year, it’s expected the service will be available on almost 20 of the airline’s planes.
There will be restrictions, and costs. Cell phone service will be limited to just six users at any one time. “The service is intended for use in exceptional situations, when passengers need to send an SMS, make a quick call, or access an e-mail on a Blackberry,” said Virgin Atlantic in their announcement. Cell phone use is also off-limits during take offs and landings, and within about 250 miles of US airspace (FAA rules prohibit cell phone use on flights in the US).
As for costs – Virgin Atlantic doesn’t charge anything for the calls. But as the call is relayed through a satellite during flight, there will be international roaming fees from the carrier. T-Mobile has not updated their site with the cost of international roaming on Virgin Atlantic flights, but we have contacted their press office and will provide an update here at NFS when that info comes in.