Ryanair is set to be the first no frills airline to enable in-flight calling. Ten planes are already equipped and when the service launches in a couple of weeks, 14 will give you the option to make calls and send texts from a cruising altitude.
Until now ‘safety fears’ have forbidden the use of mobiles during the flight because the power required to get the signal to the ground mast could interfere with communications or something. Pilots also got fed up of hearing that beep-dee-dee-dee-beep-beep noise in their headphones while trying to negotiate a landing pattern with air traffic control. Understandable.
Ryanair tackled the interference problem by installing a mast on board the plane itself. They’re special designed to weaken the signal from handsets so that it doesn’t turn the plane in rapidly descending ball of molten steel.
Clever, eh? Well, that’s not to say there aren’t limitations to the service: first of all, only O2 and 3 customers will be able to use it, at least at first. Secondly, only six passengers will be able to make calls at the same time. Others will be met with a ‘Network busy’ message.
In other words, it’s rubbish. Texting and emailing should be completely unlimited, so that’s a start.
Ryanair is known to never pass up the opportunity to make a quick buck or two, so it’s little surprise to discover that the service is far from free. In fact it will cost as much as a normal international roaming call, or as we like to call it ‘a bloody fortune’. This was claimed to be a measure that would prevent users from spending the entire time on the blower and annoying everyone else.
We rather doubt that will put off anyone whose company foots the phone bill though. And Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary summed it up. “If you want a quiet flight, use another airline,” he said. “Ryanair is noisy, full and we are always trying to sell you something.”