Passengers flying on one of the airlines' new Airbus will get a taste of in-flight calling first
If you're flying to London from New York or vice versa, you now have the option to ride on the first plane ever to allow in-flight calls. Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic airline recently announced that you can now make calls aboard its new Airbus A330 plane... so long as you're using Euopean carriers Vodafone and O2 or U.S. carrier T-Mobile.
So how does in-flight calling work exactly? The plane has a base station that transmits signals from your mobile phone to a satellite that beams the signal to a satellite dish on the ground. The service, however, is far from perfect. Aside from carrier restrictions, the service has several other limitations, including the fact that you can't call anyone during take off and landing. It's only when plane is at least 10,000 feet in the air that you can pick up your phone to remind your mother to feed your cat while you're gone.
But it doesn't end there: You still have to make sure that you're one of the six people permitted to use the service at any one time, and you must be prepared to pay roaming rates for your calls. Aside from in-flight calling, passengers on the A330 can also send and receive text messages, send and receive emails, and even connect to the internet via GPRS in case Virgin Atlantic's onboard wifi is acting more than a bit wonky. The company plans to offer the service on as many as 20 planes by the end of the year.
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