“I can’t talk now. I’m on the plane!”
Last Thursday morning Ryanair became the first airline operating out of the British Isles to allow in-flight calls and texts. The Badger has found out that four Sussex students were on the first ever flight to implement the policy.
Among these was third year Politics and Philosophy student Michelle Lavipour. She admitted she did not know the new policy was to be implemented on that flight and was against it. She said, “I can see how it is useful for people in business but the idea of having plane journeys interrupted with ringing and beeping is not desirable. I don’t think anything is that important it can’t wait an hour!”
The 20 planes are all on routes to and from Dublin, and the service allows passengers to make and receive phone calls, send and receive text messages, and transmit data. But the rates 26,000 miles up are also sky-high, with texts costing 40 pence and call rates of £2 to £3 per minute. When asked if she had used her phone onboard, Sussex student Emma Rees said “No I didn’t. I had heard it was expensive. Though I did turn it on and pose!” Another angry customer accused Ryanair of trying to use the phone policy to squeeze money out of people. He said “because the flights are so cheap they try and get you to pay for everything else.”
There are also some rather bizarre rules about who can use it. Long chats are ruled out, as the signals are relayed to a base station inside the aircraft, which is switched on only at cruising altitude, so during a flight across the Irish Sea there was about 15 minutes of potential talk time. Similarly only 6 people are allowed to make calls at any given time for safety.
It appears the policy only had limited effects. Asked if she saw a lot of people taking advantage of the right to call, Lavipour said “A few people seemed to be sending some texts but it was definitely more for novelty value.”