Crying babies are no longer the only thing to screw your flight

31 Mar, '08

Mobile phones will too.

I travel quite regularly and can tell you that no matter how short the flight is, a screaming baby must be the thing that judges should excuse people for going on an air born killing spree.

Now travellers will not just have to contend with that, with mobile phone calls gradually being allowed aloft, the relative peace and escape you so far enjoyed for that short period of time is being shattered. Thanks to “innovative” companies convincing the air transport authorities that mobile phones no longer pose a danger of subverting the aircraft navigational systems.

Zain’s agreement with AeroMobile includes International Roaming Services for all Zain in Jordan’s customers through which they can now enjoy using voice calls as well as SMS services on board. GPRS, Black Berry Services and Push Mail will be also available to customers in the near future.

Brilliant. Can you hear the various stupid ring and message tones in full volume and 27.1 surround sound?


For appropriate use of mobile phones on board, all airlines will be providing a list of guidelines, which will include a request for passengers to switch their mobile phones to ‘silent’ mode during the flight. Furthermore, the cabin crew will be able to monitor as well as handle full control of how the system will be used throughout the trip. Passengers wanting to use the service during the trip will receive a text message welcoming them to the AeroMobile system as soon as they switch their mobile phones on.

Yeah sure. Just as people do so in movie theatres, concerts and even places of worship.

AeroMobile’s Chief Executive Bjorn-Taale Sandberg said: ‘We are delighted to deliver a genuine world first technology through Zain’s network, a mobile operator that is amongst the first in the world to provide such a unique innovative service to its customers. We believe that the ability to communicate efficiently, easily and safely when on board flights will become an every-day feature for business and leisure travelers soon.’ [AMEinfo]

Why thank you Mr. Sandberg. It was bound to happen, of course, but appreciating the relative serenity of screaming babies, I shudder to think what this inevitable invention of yours is going to do to my and other travellers’ already frayed nerves.

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Comments (16)

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  1. Mike says:

    I often travel with our two small children, have done so since they were born. We always kept them quiet, and if they were fussy, we took them for a walk outside…hahahaha


  2. Loki says:

    A couple of years ago I was looking into the feasibility of doing this with one of the telco’s here for Gulf Air. For a number of reasons we didn’t go ahead with it at the time.

    These systems do have an on/off switch so that on night flights they can prevent phones from working.

    With regards to safety, two things. Firstly, the danger of mobile phones on an airplane is a myth. Secondly these on board systems generate a little GSM cloud on the plain so that any mobile on the plane is actually broadcasting with minimal power- as appose to no cloud and the mobiles broadcasting at full power trying to look for a signal. So you could say its safer (if it were indeed dangerous in the first place).

  3. Sam says:

    This will be short lived. Passengers are against it, flight crew are certainly against it, and there’s a big fat question mark amongst national aviation authorities around the globe.

    I’ll be making sure I don’t fly with any carrier that allows the use of mobile phones onboard.

    The only “scientific” research that claims the use of mobile phones are 100% safe onboard aircraft was funded by a consortium of telcom companies. what a surprise!

  4. ahmed says:

    I am pilot now – and now I am think mobile is BAAAAAD when flying VFR-

  5. Loki says:

    Planes are designed to withstand lightning strikes. A mobile phone has nothing on that! not even a plane full of them. Most flights have at least thirty phones that are switched on (due to forgetful people).

    I’ve heard that it is actually mobile phone companies that benefit from phones being switched of. This is due to the fact that 100 hundreds of devices flying in and out of range of GSM cells is a bit of problem. – Though again, this technology would prevent that.

    I should add that I am not (or rather no longer) in the telco business so I don’t have an agenda 🙂

    Unfortunately I don’t think this will be short-lived. I think within 10 years all flights will offer this service (and internet access)

  6. Sam says:


    Phones switched on during takeoff/approach phases of flights do cause issues for the mobile operators. This is because your phone is being handed over from one base station to another very quickly because of how fast your traveling through the air. Multiply this 10x or 20x fold and it does put a strain on network performance.

    If I were given a choice of mobile phone access or internet access on a flight – I would opt for internet access anyday and I think most people would too. This would allow you stay in touch with family & work – check your emails, keep ontop of breaking news,instant messaging etc.

    Do you remember the in-seat phone handsets where you would swipe your credit card to make a call? That failed miserably.

  7. Barry says:

    I agree Sam. I would rather have internet access than phone access. Besides, my phone is an internet ready smart phone, and it would be nice to be able to cheaply (or freely) go online while in flight.

  8. Loki says:

    Those handsets didn’t fail. They have become integrated into a multi-function device used to control other aspects of the service (lighting, calling an attendant, changing A/V channels,etc).

    From a Graphical User Interface perspective they were a disaster to begin with. Which is why the GSM cloud provider on the plane will be able to get away with charging just as much (if not more) but via your mobile phone as a roaming charge.

    Re internet vs. voice, the technology for either requires exactly the same external connection – a SAT based leased line.

  9. Abu Arron says:

    Ah yes, but at least if it’s internet access only we don’t have to listen to some idiot jabbering away (at full volume) about something we have absolutely no interest in.

    I use flights for a short nap, especially if it’s between GCC countries. This could be impossible with a multitude of nonsensical high-volume conversations going on!!

  10. mahmood says:

    I agree with you completely Abu Arron. I detest those fools who have to share their inane conversations by force of volume.

    I hope that all this discussion of using mobile phones on airplanes at least gets the stewards off your back when you open your laptop to work when the seat effing belt sign is on. What is that sign to them anyway? Moses descending the mountain or something?

  11. Loki says:

    Abu Arron, I agree with the sentiment!! Alas, I fear the need for business travels to “keep working” will prevail.

  12. Abu Arron says:

    There may be a few legitimate business calls, but most will constitute general posturing and showmanship. Look at me everyone, I’m on a plane and talking to my friend back home about the wild pepsi and samosa party we had last night. Good grief.

    I remember when car phones first came out and I was living in Kuwait. Every morning I would see a Kuwaiti at the traffic lights by the US Embassy chatting away on his phone looking around to see who was watching him. After a couple of weeks I took my baby daughter’s plastic red phone and duck-tapes it to my dashboard. I pulled up beside the Kuwaiti, tooted the horn and picked up the toy phone handset and started an animated imaginary call. I don’t think he was either impressed or amused.

  13. Abu Arron says:

    Oh, and Mahmood it’s all part of aircraft safety.

    It’s a little known fact that the tray tables are connected to the flaps. That is why you have to fold them away in order that the aircraft has any chance of descending to land. Otherwise we’d just keep circling the airport until we ran out of fuel!!

  14. mahmood says:

    hahhahehhehahehaheheh brilliant!

  15. Loki says:


  16. Sam says:

    New York Times hitched a ride on a recent flight featuring tests of the system, and found that things weren’t quite working up to snuff: voice quality was said to be like “talking to a small robot,” only six passengers could get a signal at a time, Blackberry email didn’t work, and calls placed from the ground to cell phones in the air went straight to voicemail. That’s a pretty long list for a system that’s been talked about for a couple years now.

    Taken from today’s New York Times.

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