Ugh. Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of Internet in the sky, but I really thought this whole in-flight cell phone service thing had died down under a wave of complaints. Apparently not.
Air France has introduced trial mobile phone service on international flights. For now, the service takes the relatively innocuous form of allowing people to send and receive both emails and text and picture messages on phones. Seems great, right? People who want to stay connected can do so without subjecting their seatmates to all the details of their conversations. The worst passengers will have to put up with is the quiet click of texting thumbs.
However, stage two of the trial will give passengers the ability to make and receive phone calls. The press release includes the following great line: “…with the service being regulated to maintain passengers’ comfort and well-being.” It sounds to me like flight attendants will end up serving as referees between loud talkers and their fellow passengers. On the upside, at least this test isn’t being conducted by a domestic U.S. carrier—if this goes as bad as I suspect it might, maybe this will be a lesson learned from a safe distance.