In Flight Phones Disappearing

By: Laura Quarantiello

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IN FLIGHT PHONES DISAPPEARING

By Laura Quarantiello
? Tiare Publications
274 words

If you expect to be able to phone home from 35,000 feet
the next time you fly, think again. American Airlines has
removed in-flight phones from it's domestic fleet. American
has used AT&T Wireless phones onboard their 654 domestic
route aircraft since 1996, but found that fewer than three calls
per day per plane were being made. This may have something
to do with the fact that passengers are charged $7.60 plus tax
for each minute of airtime, plus a $2.99 connection fee for
each call.

Passengers have found it cheaper to make calls from
airport pay phones or their own personal cellular phones before
boarding. Cell phone use is also allowed aboard planes before
the cabin doors are closed. Removing in-flight phones is nothing new:
Southwest Airlines did it in August of 2001, and with the
airline industry sinking into financial trouble, more airlines
are expected to follow suit and yank the plug on their in-flight
connections. According to an American spokesperson,
removing the phones will reduce maintenance costs and lower
aircraft weight.

To further stir the waters, AT&T has reported that it is
closing its in-flight phone business, citing the growing use
of cell phones. Air carriers who use AT&T service, such as Alaska
and Northwest, will be forced to switch to another service or
remove their in-flight phones as well. All is not lost, however;
even though phones aboard aircraft are losing popularityHealth Fitness Articles,
passengers are asking for Internet access. Verizon Airfone is
testing high-speed Internet access with United Airlines aboard
Airbus aircraft. So even though you may not be able to make
phone calls from the sky you can send e-mails.

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