Just Say No to Mile-High VoIP.

Flight Day continues…

Finally, we’re starting to see some reasonable alternatives to the prematurely killed Boeing Connexion in-flight Internet offering. AirCell is the company behind JetBlue’s testing, Virgin America’s promised network, and the now active American Airlines “GoGo” WiFi service. And early reports are positive. Mostly.

Not only did the FCC rule there’s no place on flights for cell phone chatter, (thankfully) AirCell has concluded the same – and is restricting VoIP traffic. At least they thought they were. Unfortunately, Andy Abramson has found a work-around by using Flash-based VoIP client Phweet. There’s not many I know more connected, always-on, Internet-craving than I. Yet, I’d rather remain net-free on flights than be subjected to folks yammering on headsets all flight along. Is it just me?

8 thoughts on “Just Say No to Mile-High VoIP.”

  1. Although I agree with the desire not to hear people yammering on their cell phones “in-flight”, I do not appreciate the notion that since I have chosen to fly on an airplane, my rights get to be decided based upon the convenience to other passengers. This does not seem to be a wise way to decide upon rules. It could extend to just about anything. Should you get to watch an R-rated movie on your laptop/iPod next to my child?

    As I said, I don’t relish the idea of sitting next to someone chatting the whole time. We obviously need a way to deal with this. However, I don’t want the fact that some people might be annoying or some might get annoyed to be a trump card determining my access to an internet connection in-flight.

  2. On Amtrak, which I take between DC and NYC every month or so, they provide a “quiet car” where cell phone usage and loud talking are prohibited. So maybe all the Skype folks can sit in a certain part of the plane or maybe we can turn one of the restrooms into a VoIP Booth. Fortunately, I doubt this will be an immediate and widespread issue.

  3. Making new rules because the tech is new is unnecessary. It’s already a federal regulation that passengers must comply with all crew member instruction. If someone is making too much noise, the flight attendant should just tell them to shut up rather than placing the burden of trying to restrict what people do on the internet service provider. You don’t comply? You don’t fly. Guy sitting next to you doesn’t get it? Push the little button above your head.

  4. Reading the gogo web site, voip is allowed — but the voip packets have a lower priority than web surfing, etc. So just by lowering the priority, they may make voip unusable.

  5. I just heard from AirCell’s agency and they’ve provided a bit more clarification on the issue:

    It is against American’s policy and Gogo’s terms of service to use VoIP. Aircell has multiple protocols and practices in place to prevent the use of VoIP. Obviously, it is extremely difficult to stop every instance of VoIP but Aircell is monitoring and working constantly to enforce American’s policy and Gogo’s terms of service.

  6. “No place on flights for cell phone chatter (thankfully)”


    Never would have thought Dave would have such a luddite attitude. I’ve never been any more bothered by cell phone users on buses or trains, coffee shops or anywhere else than I people just talking to their seat mates, babies crying or other airline chatter.

    No cellphone rules are nothing more than a way for airlines to charge ridiculous fees for their back-of-seat phones … which ARE still permitted. If the REAL reason was to minimize noise than they should be outlawed too.

    Come on Dave … cell phone use is no more annoying than any other kind of conversation on a plane.

    Common decency is all that is required to regulate noise. If someone is being a boysterous chatterbox, glaring looks from those sitting around them, or a tactful request from the stewardess to quiet down is all that is needed to deal with this minor problem.


  7. Most seat back phones are gone. Seems like the business couldn’t be sustained.

    In my experience, folks talk much louder on cellphones than in conversation with someone sitting next to them. Again, my concerns are based on real world experience as a regular Amtrak rider in the northeast corridor. (And fortunately, Amtrak did introduce the quiet cars so I can relax or get some work done. And when I need to take a call, I step into the space between cars or visit the cafe car – works out fine.)

  8. Since cell phones have never been permitted on planes I have no real-world experience of them. I just cannot imagine that I’d be so upset over the poor manners of a few to prohibit use by the many.

    Surely there could be cell-phone use rules and regulations that can effectively regulate bad manners on air planes that are more narrowly tailored to deal with the real problem rather than ban them outright.

    Airlines in the mid-East and Europe now permit their use. Perhaps experiences there could help the industry come up with some kind of reasonable compromise.

    To me, out right bans are not a reasonable compromise.


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