Swiss trials inflight phone calls on its Boeing 777

By David Flynn, January 27 2016
Swiss trials inflight phone calls on its Boeing 777

Swiss is the latest airline to join the sky-high surfing set, with three inflight data packages offered on its new Boeing 777-300ER – and, in what may prove a contentious move, there's also the option to make phone calls.

This is something that most airlines have resisted, some to the point of blocking Internet-based calling apps such as Skype over their inflight WiFi networks.

Swiss says the facility to make calls and send SMS text messages – enabled through a 'pico-cell' fitted to the aircraft which mimics the mobile network your phone would see on the ground – will be trialled for 12 months and reflects "recent market research" into what its passengers want.

The airline promises to "closely monitor" the one-year trial phase "and will be carefully assessing any and all feedback from its customers."

Calls will also be blocked during the overnight period of the Boeing 777 flights, with the airline advising that "as soon as the cabin lighting is switched off, the feature may no longer be used."

The price for a chat while you're high above the clouds has yet to be revealed, with Swiss saying that's a matter between inflight provider AeroMobile and the customer's own home telco – but you can bet it won't be cheap.

As for inflight Internet, a quick hit of 20MB will cost 9 Swiss Francs (A$12.60), with a mid-range 50MB at 19 Swiss Francs (A$26.60) and a meaty 120MB at 39 Swiss Francs (A$54.60).

First class passengers on the Boeing 777-300ER will receive one 50MB data package free of charge.

Swiss takes delivery of its first Boeing 777-300ER this week, with five sister aircraft to follow by August and three more during 2017-18.

The long-range Boeings will replace Swiss' older gas-guzzling Airbus A340s on routes to Hong Kong, Bangkok and Los Angeles, plus some flights to San Francisco, São Paulo and Tel Aviv.

The Boeing 777-300ER features all-new first class suites and business class seats shaped by leading design house PriestmanGoode as a natural evolution of Swiss' award-winning cabins – but with more space, more storage and greater privacy.

Read: Inside the new Swiss Boeing 777-300ER first class, business class

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Dec 2014

Total posts 284

I would certainly not like anyone calling whilst inflight, especially if I'm trying to get some sleep! 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 704

It's very expensive.

An International AA flight pass costs US$19

500MB will set you back US$1 on Emirates

Etihad Flight Pass US$24

Norwegian Airlines - Free

Meanwhile $54 will only get you 120MB when flying swiss.


22 Oct 2012

Total posts 316

There are still too many people that when in a noisy environment such as public transport believe that they have to shout into their phone in order to be heard at the other end.  It just doesn't work like that.


Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 732

Is nothing sacred these days.


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1501

25 years ago in QF in 747 even in economy there was ability to place a call from headset from your armrest. It was bloody expensive, like $10/min and I never use it to confirm that it was actually working.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1247

Love that picture of the B77W against the Alps.

04 Nov 2012

Total posts 214

Just waht we need on long hauls, loud phone converstations what an idiotic idea.

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