Qantas expects a decision on the use of tablets and smartphones during take-off and landing “within the next month or two”.
The airline is working with Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to gain approval for these and other ‘personal electronic devices’ to be switched on and used through all stages of the flight.
“This would remove the need to power down for take-off and landing, and avoid interruption to people’s inflight entertainment experience” the airline says, although of course they’d have to be in flight mode during the during the taxi, take-off and landing stages.
Inflight Internet is a bit further down the track, but Qantas continues to track developments both at home and abroad.
“We’re looking at this, and we’ve done a number of trials ourselves, but the technology available has been the challenge” says Olivia Wirth, Qantas Group Executive Manager for Brand, Marketing and Corporate Affairs.
Wirth tells Australian Business Traveller that the airline is “keeping a very close eye” on Telstra’s tests of inflight 4G broadband on Sydney-Melbourne flights.
“If there’s an opportunity in the future we would absolutely assess this” she says.
“On the ground and in the air, we’re always looking for different ways to innovate with technology” Wirth adds.
“We recognise that everyone’s got an iPhone literally attached to them – case in point!” she laughs, glancing at the iPhone which seemingly hasn’t left her hand for the past hour.
However, Wirth is also keenly aware that for many travellers, those hours in the air provide a welcome oasis of solitude in an always-on world.
“When we talk to our customers about this it’s one that they feel quite strongly about” she admits.
“Many of our customers, including business travellers, believe that a flight is almost their last hope of not being in contact with anyone! And that’s a bit of a luxury these days, so we’ve got to be careful with that.”
“So while we’d like to be able to provide every option to our customers, there’s a 50/50 split in what customers tell us they want.”
Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT