British Airways is to roll out inflight mobile phone technology, starting with its new business-class only London City Airport - New York JFK route in autumn.
Passengers travelling on the twice-daily route will be able to send and receive texts and emails during the flight, as well as access broadband through their laptops. However the carrier has held back on introducing voice calls to gauge customer feedback over air rage concerns.BA’s Willie Walsh commented: “This is a great service for our customers whom we know want to do business in the air or simply stay in touch via e-mail or text.”
A spokesman for BA added: “The service is aimed at people in the Square Mile. We believe the route and the new technology will offer an appealing package to business travellers.”
“There are no plans for voice calls at the moment but we will listen to feedback from passengers,” he added. “The customer is in charge.”
The technology is provided by Mobile OnAir, the company that is also providing inflight mobile services to carriers including Ryanair and bmi.
Benoit Debains, chief executive of OnAir, said: “We’re delighted to have been selected by British Airways, one of the world’s flagship carriers, to provide the highest standard of inflight communications for their premium customers.
BMI has been testing a text messaging-only service on its flights between Heathrow and Moscow since December. A BMI spokesman said that the airline was unlikely to launch voice calls, partly due to a lack of public support for the idea.
Other carriers that have begun testing inflight technology include Air Portugal, Qantas, Air France, Qantas, Oman Air and Royal Jordanian. Meanwhile Lufthansa has ruled out using the service.