Usually, whenever there’s a story about more mobile phone service being added, it’s a good thing. Bringing reception to rural America, third-world countries, and underground subway stations are all fantastic. In fact, we can only think of one situation where making it possible to place cell phone calls would be a bad thing – on an airplane. Nevertheless, Virgin Atlantic is forging ahead with plans to do exactly that on a number of its flights by the end of 2012.
According to reports, the European carrier will partner with a company called AeroMobile to allow passengers to have uninterrupted mobile phone service at tens of thousands of feet in the air. The rollout will begin on planes that fly between New York City and London. However, US regulations prohibit the use of telephones within commercial aircraft, so it will only be available once the plane is 250 miles out of American airspace. Nevertheless, that’s still thousands of miles where the person sitting next to you could very well be chattering on the entire flight.
This was of course only a matter of time. With the rollout of in-flight WiFi, and a more limited expansion of in-flight text messaging, you knew someone would have to be the first to allow passengers to ruin everyone else’s flight by giving them the same level of freedom to annoy as the local McDonald’s. There have been reports that US regulators are possibly considering easing the restriction of cell phone use.