Oh no, no, no. This isn’t the kind of news I wanted to read.
I’m totally OK with the Federal Aviation Administration giving approval for gate-to-gate electronic use. And I’m also OK with gate-to-gate Wi-Fi. But I don’t think I can get on board (pun intended) with in-flight calling. Sure, you can use those expensive handsets on the backs of some seats now, but they’re so pricey that most people don’t bother. The problem is that I don’t want people chatting away loudly in the seat next to me the way they already do on trains. The nice thing about flying is that you can just sit there in the quiet, zone out and read a book. Now, Gogo, the popular in-flight Wi-Fi provider, is looking to make in-flight calling and texting affordable and easy… even with your existing mobile number.
The new service is called Gogo Text & Talk, requires you to download an application and register your phone number before you board your flight. Then, once you’re in the air, you’ll be able to place your phone calls over the existing Wi-Fi network. According to Engadget, Gogo already has agreements in place with more than 200 airlines around the world. Thankfully, U.S. regulators aren’t giving a nod of approval to in-flight calling, for whatever reason right now, so the annoying loud guy on the phone won’t be an issue here just yet.
Engadget gave the service a test and said that voice calls didn’t work very well. Right now it sounds like reception is a problem; the site had a hard time hearing callers. Texting worked fine, on the other hand. Let’s hope airlines keep this kind of approval to a minimum; I’d much rather everyone quietly tapped away on keyboards to stay in touch.