Emirates launches in-flight cell phone service

On Thursday, Emirates became the first airline worldwide to offer in-flight cell phone service, with an inaugural phone call at 30,000 feet.

"As the world leader in innovation for our customers, we are delighted to now offer them the choice of using their own mobile phones to contact friends, family or colleagues while flying with us," said Emirates CEO Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum in a press release.

The AeroMobile system on Emirates flights will be activated when planes are at cruising altitude (20,000 feet), allowing passengers to make voice calls and send and receive text messages. The cabin crew can deactivate service at any point during a flight, including night flights when passengers are sleeping.

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The airline will limit the number of calls that may be made at any one time to five or six. Charges for service will be in line with international roaming rates.

Personally, I can hardly imagine a worse in-flight experience than chatty seatmates yelling into their cell phones for the duration of a flight, so here's hoping that in-flight cell phone service doesn't become widespread.

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