Ryanair rolls out in-flight mobile calls

Ryanair has increased the number of aircraft that feature satellite technology, which allows passengers to make mobile calls during a flight.


Budget airline Ryanair has increased its in-flight satellite technology to allow the use of mobile phones on its services within Europe.

The budget airline, which is known for its 1p per flight offers, now has 20 aircraft that let passengers make calls and text in the air, including those serving the London to Dublin routes. The airline plans to upgrade its entire 170-strong fleet.

However, Ryanair also revealed the cost of mobile phone use during flights, and its not exactly cheap. The airline said it will cost €3 (£2.60) to make and receive calls, €0.5 (44p) to send a text and €2 (£1.77) to email while in the air, although receiving an SMS will be free.

A charge will also be levied to receive a call, but not a text message, and the service will only be switched on above 10,000ft (3,000m).

The European Commission approved the use of mobile phones during flights in April last year.

Mobile phone calls were previously banned on flights because the signal from handset to a mast interfered with the aircraft's instrumentation. However, the EC changed the law after new technology that allows a transmitter to be installed at the back of the aircraft and will connect with the mobile phones using a lower strength signal that will not affect the craft's instruments, was released.

At the time of approval, European Union Telecommunications Commissioner Viviane Reading warned if users get "shock phone bills, the service will not take off".

It appears Ryanair has ignored this warning and its customers risk paying more for mobile phone calls made in the air, than they do for the actual flights.

The airline isn't the first to offer air passengers the ability to use their mobile phone during a flight. In December, BMI gave its customers the ability to text in the air, while Emirates Airline trialled an in-flight mobile phone service in March last year.

Ryanair said the technology would be rolled out across the entire fleet of 170 planes over the next 18 months.

The use of mobile phones during flights has come in for much criticism from those that feel it would disturb other passengers but Ryanair owner Michael O'Leary doesn't appear to have taken this on-board.

O'Leary told the Guardian:"I have no patience with the Luddite approach that says people don't want to use their mobile phones in-flight".

"You don't take a flight to contemplate your life in silence. Our services are not cathedral-like sanctuaries. Anyone who looks like they're sleeping, we wake them up to sell them things."

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