Air New Zealand Allows Onboard Texts

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Air New Zealand plans to soon let passengers send and receive text messages and emails in flight using their own iPhone, Blackberry and GSM mobile phone.

But the airline is saying no to in-flight phone calls, based on customer feedback.

The new mobile and data service, subject to regulatory approval, debuts with the first of the airline's new Boeing 777-300 planes, in November.

"Feedback from our customers has shown they wish to be able to text, and check emails, to stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues during their long-haul flights," said Ed Sims, Air New Zealand Group General Manager, International Airline.

The new service will also allow customers to use their Netbooks or laptops in conjunction with their mobile broadband connection to access the Internet.

"Customers onboard our new Boeing 777-300 aircraft will be able to use their own GSM/GPRS devices safely when the system is activated during the cruise stage of flight," said Sims.

Based on customer preference for quiet, Air New Zealand does not plan to enable voice calls onboard, he said. Rather, passengers will be requested to keep their phones on 'silent' mode.

The carrier said customers will be billed for roaming by their own mobile provider, and that yet-to-be-determined in-flight roaming costs would also apply.
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