BMI is piloting mobile internet and texting services on planes, but frequent flyers need not get up in arms about getting stuck next to chatty people, as the airline has wisely chosen to leave out voice calls.
The service, from OnAir, will be trialled for six months on just one plane – an Airbus A320, which flies between Heathrow and Moscow. Passengers will be able to use SMS, email and internet on mobiles, PDAs and laptops with GSM SIM cards or dongles.
Peter Spencer, managing director of BMI, said: “It opens up an exciting new era of travellers being able to stay in touch by text message and email whilst in the air.
The pilot project isn’t just about testing the tech or the take-up, however. “The trial will help us address some of the social and etiquette issues regarding the use of mobile communications devices inflight and provide valuable customer feedback which will be at the heart of deciding how the service is developed and rolled out across the remainder of our mid haul fleet,” Spencer said.
“We have chosen not to implement the voice call option as part of the trial,” he added.
On the other side of the world, Delta Air Lines officially launched Aircell's Gogo Inflight Internet service on six of its aircrafts. In-flight Internet initially will be available on five MD-88 aircraft flying Delta Shuttle routes between New York's LaGuardia Airport and Boston's Logan and Washington's Reagan airports plus one Boeing 757 flying throughout Delta's domestic system, with service spreading to other Delta routes as additional aircraft are introduced.
"In-flight Internet access is one of the most popular requests we receive from our customers," noted Tim Mapes, Delta's senior vice president of marketing. To celebrate the launch, Delta passengers traveling on the Gogo-equipped MD-88 Shuttle aircraft will be treated to a holiday surprise with complimentary access to Gogo during a Dec. 16 - 31, 2008 promotional period.
A "WiFi hotspot" decal will be prominently displayed adjacent to the boarding door of the MD-88 aircraft so customers will know Gogo Inflight Internet service is available on their flight. In addition, a Delta-Gogo instructional card will be available in each seatback, providing details on how to sign up for the service. Gogo representatives and Delta employees will be available at all three Delta Shuttle-served airports throughout the promotional period to provide information and assistance to customers traveling during this timeframe.