11. February 2011 09:09
To make travel more comfortable and hassle free few airlines now offer mobile connectivity to the passengers to stay in touch with family and friends. Here are those few airlines that provide this facility to all the passengers onboard.
The move was first initiated by the Emirates Air, in 2008 on its 75 long-haul flights. Last year at the Farnborough International Airshow the airlines announced that it will gradually equip the entire A380 flee with internet and mobile service, which will be provided by OnAir.
At present the mobile services are available on flights A340, A330, and B777. At present the mobile service is being provided by Aeromobile but once A380 carrier will fully be equipped with mobile services the service provider will shift to OnAir, which uses the Immersat Swiftbroadband Satellite that turns the aircraft into a connection zone. Passengers have to dial the country codes for making calls.
Aeromobile currently charges international roaming rates as per the network used by the passengers. OnAir charges the bill from the passengers according to the network operator, which is based on the individual roaming charges.
The Russian airline Aeroflot comes next that began offering on-board mobile calls and services from last year Christmas Eve. The airline at present offers the service on the Airbus A321, which is used on the mid-haul flights and will soon be extending the facility on the A330 carrier, which is used for trans-continental routes. The company has been providing the service free of cost until 28th February 2011 but will soon be releasing the new call rates.
The mobile network is being controlled by one of the Russian major phone service provider Megafon. Passengers are free to make calls, send messages and access the internet on the GPRS activated phones.
Oman Air started the mobile and internet services together from January 2010 and became the first airline to provide both the services to the passengers. The services have been featured on the long-haul flights of A330. The services, which is being provided by OnAir is compatible with all network types and handset. The billing is done according to the network providers roaming changes.
TAM Brazilian airline introduced the mobile connectivity service in the October 2010 on the Airbus A321 that operates on domestic routes. The airline has decided to extend the services to other 26 aircrafts by the second half of this month. The 26 aircrafts will include A319, A320 and A321, which also cover domestic routes. The network service provider OnAir charges the same amount as defined by the individual roaming rates and usage.
Air New Zealand will also be joining the list by next month. Initially the mobile connectivity will be available on the A320 aircraft, which is operated on the domestic route but will gradually cover the fleet that includes Boeing B777-300s. Vodafone will be taking care of the network onboard and will charge 80 cents per outbound text message and USD 2.7 per minute on outgoing voice calls and incoming calls will be priced at USD 1.5 per minute. The internet rates will start at USD 15.5 per MB.