Air NZ plans to let u text, email n fly - but quietly

Fri May 28, 2010 12:32am EDT
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AUCKLAND (Reuters Life!) - Air New Zealand is planning to let some passengers send text messages and emails mid-flight by the end of the year but fellow travelers need not worry -- phone calls will not be allowed.

New Zealand's national carrier said it expects to let people send and receive text messages and emails on their iPhones, Blackberries and GSM mobiles on its new 777-300 aircrafts by November.

The new service will also enable customers to use their Netbooks or laptops in conjunction with their mobile broadband connection to access the Internet. The airline said the new mobile text and data service is being introduced after feedback from passengers who want to stay connected on long-haul flights but it is subject to regulatory approval.

However based on customer feedback, Air New Zealand said it did not currently plan to enable voice calls onboard.

"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," airline spokesman Ed Sims said in a statement.

"Passengers will also be requested to keep their phones on 'silent' mode."

Sims said passengers will be billed by their own mobile service, like any other global roaming plan, but standard in-flight roaming costs will apply.

(Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Gyles Beckford)