Emirates airlines allows in-flight cell phone chatting

The Dubai-based airline is known for being on the tech vanguard when it comes to in-flight services. Now, besides texting and e-mail, it's letting passengers talk on their mobile phones.

Emirates is now allowing the use of cell phones in addition to on-plane phones. Emirates

Love it or hate it -- cell phone use is now making its way onto airplanes while in flight.

According to All Things D, the Dubai-based airline carrier Emirates is now allowing its A380 aircraft passengers to chat on their mobile devices while in the air. The first call was made last week by using the airline's Wi-Fi service called OnAir.

Emirates is known as a tech savvy airline. In 2006, it announced that it would start letting passengers use cell phones during flights, along with e-mail and text messaging. At the time, the technology to make this happen was fairly clunky because cellular signals had to be operated through a satellite system. Presumably, using OnAir's technology now makes cell phone use a bit more seamless.

"Beginning in 1993 with first passenger satellite phone service to last year with our A380 Wi-Fi system, Emirates has always taken the approach that providing the latest in in-flight service and connectivity is a key part of our passengers' journey," Emirates vice president Patrick Brannelly said in a statement, according to All Things D. "Emirates continues to invest in the most innovative technology possible and promises to keep pushing the boundaries of the in-flight innovation for the benefit of our passengers."

While allowing cell phones on airplanes is indeed cutting edge, passengers will not be able to use their phones within 250 miles of the U.S. The country's Federal Aviation Administration mandates that cell phone use is not allowed on flights.

Besides Emirates, Australia's Quantas has also allowed in-flight texting and e-mailing but not cell phone talking. Recently, the makers of the Boeing 747-8 said they were preparing their "Dreamliner" for cell phone use as early as 2013 -- it will still be subject to FAA rules, however.

The FAA remains strict on yakking during flights, but it's looking to become more lax on letting passengers keep their electronic devices on during take-off and landing. In August, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, "With so many different types of devices available, we recognize that this is an issue of consumer interest."

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About the author

Dara Kerr is a staff writer for CNET focused on the sharing economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado where she developed an affinity for collecting fool's gold and spirit animals.

 

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