Travelers have long found the electronics ban to be a mixed burden and blessing – for some, it’s an oasis of peace and quiet during an otherwise hectic day. For others, flights, particularly long ones, are time sucks of lost productivity. In recent years, the roll-out of in-flight Wi-Fi services has dramatically improved the ability of business travelers to stay on top of their work.
Now, Singapore Airlines is entering the race to become the first major “fully connected” airline in Asia, rolling out the ability to make and receive phone calls, texts, and use Wi-Fi Internet on long-haul flights. Part of a collaboration with in-flight connectivity provider OnAir, the carrier will debut a range of on-board communication offerings as early as the first half of 2011.
These services will will be introduced progressively on flights operated by the Airline’s A380, A340-500 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
“The environment that our customers have gotten used to on the ground can soon be replicated in the air, when they fly with Singapore Airlines on aircraft fitted with this new connectivity platform. Traveling for business or pleasure, they are just a click or a text message away, with access to live information, social networking and news updates, as well as in-flight shopping,” said Singapore Airlines’ Senior Vice President Product & Services, Mr. Yap Kim Wah.
“The agreement is extremely significant. It sends a strong signal to the industry that in-flight passenger communications has come of age – and is a must-have for airlines looking to remain competitive in the future,” said Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir.
Customers who use the mobile services will see their usage reflected in the monthly bills from their telecommunications provider where international GSM roaming rates apply.
We’re curious to see the backlash from this, particularly as abuses of the new-found “power” begin to occur. Will your overweight, unshowered middle eat companion now be allowed to yap endlessly to their friends about last night’s escapades, or will calls be limited in time and duration? Will flights have a designated “quiet zone”? We’ll be sure to follow up on any developments, and any airlines that follow suit.
[Flickr via William Hawkins]