Air New Zealand plans to allow some passengers to text and send emails mid-flight by the end of the year. Phone calls however, will not be permitted. The airline said that by November, it expects to let people send and receive text messages and emails on their iPhones, Blackberries and GSM mobiles on its new 777-300 aircrafts. The new service will also enable customers to use their Netbooks or laptops in conjunction with their mobile broadband connection to access the Internet.
The airline said the new mobile text and data service is being introduced after feedback from passengers who want to stay connected on long-haul flights but it is subject to regulatory approval. “Customers onboard our new Boeing 777-300 aircraft will be able to use their own GSM/GPRS devices safely when the system is activated during the cruise stage of flight,” airline spokesman Ed Sims said in a statement. “Passengers will also be requested to keep their phones on 'silent' mode.” Sims said passengers will be billed by their own mobile service, like any other global roaming plan, but standard in-flight roaming costs will apply.