As airlines ramp up inflight connectivity, and let passengers fire up their mobiles to make and take calls using a sky-high version of global roaming, passengers remain unconvinced over the prospect of phone calls at 30,000 feet.
According to an online survey conducted by business travel specialist Corporate Traveller, 88% of travellers give mobile phones the thumbs-down for voice calls, saying they should be used only for silent activities such as emailing, texting and web browsing.
"That outcome gives a pretty clear indication of how travellers involved in this online survey feel about the idea of calls being made onboard aircraft" said Corporate Traveller marketing manager Jerome Bamminger, who believes travellers fear voice calls will detract from the splendid isolation of flight.
But they may not have a choice, with more than 20 other airlines around the world already offering a satellite-based mobile service.
“Foreign airlines servicing parts of Europe and the Middle East have been allowing onboard voice calls for years" Bamminger says.
"And just this month we saw Emirates join Virgin Atlantic and Etihad, when it added in-flight mobile phone service to its fleet of A380 aircraft so passengers could make calls and text while in the air."
“As a business travel specialist we know that many of our clients who travel frequently for business are looking for some quiet time when they’re on a flight" Bamminger says.
"Generally business travellers are catching up on sleep or work or preparing for a meeting, so sitting next to someone talking on the phone for a long time could be disruptive."
“In saying that however, there would still be many executives that need to stay connected at all times, and it’s this kind of service and connectivity that could influence the purchasing decisions of corporate customers that like to have all their communication channels available 24/7.”