As if in response to Kathryn’s post concerning America’s adoption of in-flight mobile phone use, British Airways have confirmed they have added such a service on a London to New York flight. Connectivity will be offered by OnAir, a company dedicated to providing in-flight communication, but will only be available to those flying premier business class.
The flight in question is from London City airport aboard one of two special Airbus A318 aircraft flying to New York’s JFK. Interestingly, the service will not include voice calls and will be restricted to data, so you can send SMS, email and browse the Internet, but not chat to your friends or make a business call. British Airways say this decision is due to a ‘strong divide in customer’s opinion’ regarding mobile calls on a plane.
This is all very well, but how much will it cost? Seeing as OnAir aren’t a provider, you’ll be charged according to your provider’s international data costs – that’s non-EU – so expect anything up to £6 per megabyte depending on your carrier and how they interpret ‘non-EU’. That’s quite a bit, but seeing as a return business class flight to New York will set you back around £4500, it probably won’t make all that much difference!
The move represents several firsts for both the airline and mobile industry. It’s the first UK flight to offer transatlantic mobile use, it’ll be aboard the first long-haul London City airport route and the first time since Concorde that BA will use the BA001 flight number. British Airways don’t intend to offer OnAir’s service on any existing aircraft.