Air France launches in-flight cell phone trial

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Air France has begun its first in-flight mobile phone services trial onboard a single Airbus A318 that operates on short-haul routes in Europe. The service, introduced this week, will initially allow passengers to send and receive text and picture messages as well as emails via phones with internet access.

However, in a second stage of this six-month trial, passengers will be able to make and receive phone calls as well. Of course, one bone of contention for in-flight voice calls has been the noise and intrusive telephone ringing it could cause, annoying nearby passengers. Air France says it will regulate the service “to maintain passengers’ comfort and well-being,” although it did not explain how it plans to do that.

Further single aircraft trials are planned in Europe by both BMI British Midland and TAP Air Portugal, while in the United States JetBlue Airways recently began testing its in-flight email and messaging services.

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