many airline passengers saying it is something they do not want, Air France
has become the latest airline to trial an inflight mobile telephone
service, offering passengers a full range of mobile communications services, including voice, SMS and email.
Air France and OnAir have been trialling the inflight mobile phone service since 17 December 2007. During the first three
months, passengers were just able to send and receive SMS text messages and emails, including attachments. The Mobile OnAir service uses
Inmarsat's SwiftBroadband satellite connectivity to transmit voice and data signals to and from the plane.
Passengers will now also be able to make and receive calls.
The findings from the trial will enable Air France to decide which service customers prefer: data only or data and voice.
now use their mobile phones and GPRS devices to make and receive calls in exactly the same way as they do on
the ground. To use the service, passengers simply need to have a roaming agreement, as when travelling abroad, and the cost for using the
service is invoiced by their operator in the usual way.
The Air France / OnAir service is activated above 3,000 metres and allows up to six simultaneous calls, as well as unlimited SMS and
emails. The service also allows the downloading of email attachments.
Patrick Roux, Vice President Marketing Air France,
said, "We are taking every opportunity to offer our customers the latest cabin
innovations, while continuing to make travel comfort and their well-being our main priority. During the first three months of the
trial, passenger feedback has been positive regarding the features,
quality of transmission and user-friendliness of the service."
The Air France trial is running on an Airbus A318 operating on routes in Europe. Customers are informed about the service via seat-back
leaflets and cabin crew announcements. As during the first part of the trial, customers will be able to give their opinion on this new service.
Their feedback and comments will enable Air France to assess their level of satisfaction.
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