Virgin is first UK airline to offer in-flight mobile calls

Virgin is to be the first UK airline to let you make mobile phone calls during your flight. Get ready for annoying chatter as you fly.

Virgin is soon to offer in-flight mobile phone calls, text messaging and Internet access on its transatlantic flights.

The service is due to take to the skies towards the end of the year, The Telegraph reports, beginning on Virgin's A330 Airbus flights between London and New York, eventually rolling out to 17 other planes on at least 10 more routes.

The service is powered by AeroMobile, which is part of Panasonic -- makers of the delicious Lumix cameras -- and will provide GSM network coverage, connecting your phone cruising at 41,000 feet in the air to your mates on the ground.

It'll let you not only send text messages (a service already available on British Airways), but you'll also be able to send and receive phone calls. So you never need to be out of the loop when it comes to the latest shenanigans on the god-awful Made in Chelsea.

Virgin is the first UK airline company to offer such a service, catching up with Lufthansa and Emirates, which are already good chums with AeroMobile. You'll be charged at a similar rate to normal roaming costs, so don't expect to chat away to your friends for the full 10-hour flight without racking up a monstrous bill.

Virgin wasn't clear about whether the entire plane would benefit from the service, but I expect it to be trialled in the business class areas first.

While handy for some, I imagine it won't be long before complaints start arising about people chatting into their phones for hours on end. If so, we could soon see parts of the plane designated as 'quiet zones' in a similar fashion to Virgin's trains. We'll see how the new service fares when it's put to full use later in the year.

What do you think of Virgin's move? Will it be handy to use your mobile on a plane or would you be infuriated by the endless chatter? Let me know in the comments below or over on our Facebook page.

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About the author

Andrew is a senior editor at CNET and has always been fascinated by tech. When not getting up close and personal with the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.

 

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