Prohibitions against phones likely to stay in place
The US Federal Aviation Administration is hoping to announce looser restrictions on in-flight use of portable electronics by the end of 2013, according to sources for the New York Times. The people belong to an industry working group set up by the FAA, and add that the latter is specifically considering allowing reading devices during takeoff and landing, including tablets and e-readers. Devices may still have to be set to Airplane mode, though, and cellphones are expected to remain off-limits.
Arrangement allows ordering, limited travel, entertainment functions
Delta Air Lines is deploying 250 iPads at restaurants in Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, according to an announcement. Travelers can find the hardware at Concourse G's MinniBar, Mimosa, and Shoyu. The rollout follows one at New York's LaGuardia Airport, and is part of a plan that will eventually see Delta using over 4,500 iPads at three airport hubs within the next year.
Canadian service focusing on existing Gogo for rollout
In-flight Wi-Fi provider Gogo has been given approval to offer its service in Canada. Industry Canada has issued a subordinate license to the company, allowing it to serve flights using its air-to-ground radio-based technology. Both internal flights and those crossing the border into the US will get access.
Planes previously used two tons of in-flight entertainment systems
Singapore-based airline Scoot Pte has switched to iPads for in-flight entertainment in order to save fuel, Bloomberg notes. The company's CEO, Campbell Wilson, claims that the move cut off about 7 percent of the weight from planes received from Scoot's parent company, Singapore Airlines. This is despite increasing seating in the planes by 40 percent.
Rare instance of hazardous iPhone defect
An iPhone recently caught fire onboard a Regional Express jet in Australia, a press release from the carrier reveals. The plane had just landed after a flight from Lismore to Sydney when the airline says that a passenger's iPhone began "emitting a significant amount of dense smoke, accompanied by a red glow." A photo of the phone's back shows extensive damage, including a missing chunk and cracks throughout the glass.
May replace printed lists, manuals
British Airways has begun a pilot project testing the iPad with cabin crews. 100 crew members have been given the tablet so far, with the goal of streamlining some aspects of customer service. Each iPad is, for example, loaded with passenger lists and seating charts, which are updated just before each flight. Crews can likewise check Executive Club status and special meal requests.
iPod touch comes in ahead of Android, BlackBerry
iPhones represent almost two-thirds of the mobile devices using Gogo's in-flight Wi-Fi service, the network provider says. The category notably excludes tablets and notebooks, which are classified as computers and require people to pay more for in-flight connections. In the mobile arena the iPod touch is in fact the second-place device, with a 20 percent share.
First major carrier to join
While Delta Air Lines is "still vastly paper driven" when it comes to navigational charts, the company is seeking approval to test the iPad and other tablets beginning next quarter, according to spokeswoman Gina Laughlin. The Federal Aviation Administration only recently approved the use of the iPad instead of paper charts or electronic flight bags (EFBs). Although EFBs may offer some of the advantages of tablets, they can weigh as much as 18 pounds versus the iPad 1's 1.5 or the iPad 2's 1.3.
In-flight service generates royalties
Southwest Airlines has launched a new in-flight service selling content from iTunes, according to Variety. Dubbed InAirtainment, the service actually takes the form of a website through which people can browse for music, movies or TV shows hosted on iTunes. Southwest says is it is claiming a small royalty from every download, which may be 5 percent if the airline is enrolled in the normal iTunes Affiliate program.
Option initially limited to transatlantic service
Airline Iceland Express says it is now offering iPads as a form of in-flight entertainment. The rental option costs $13, £9 or 1,500 ISK per flight. The airline is only currently offering tablets on transatlantic trips, but says it plans to offer them on all planes within the next few months.
Puts Air in league with netbooks
The 11-inch MacBook Air can stay in a bag while being taken through airport security, the Transportation Security Administration has ruled. Because the computer is "smaller than a standard-size laptop," according to TSA spokesman Nicholas Kimball, it does not have to be scanned separately during the X-ray process. Normally, policies require larger electronics to be taken out of a bag so a scanner can get a clearer shot.
'Broader roll out' coming, says spokesman
Jetstar flights run by Australia's Qantas Airways will soon feature iPads for in-flight entertainment, Dow Jones reports. "We're in the final stages of putting in place what would be a broader roll out across the network," says a Jetstar spokesman. "We're in ongoing discussion with the manufacturer around a more integrated network proposition." An Apple Australia spokeswoman has declined to comment.
Promotional stunt exploits lost iPhone prototype
German airline Lufthansa is offering a free flight to Germany for Gray Powell, the Apple engineer who accidentally left a prototype iPhone behind at a German-themed bar in California. Specifically Powell is being offered a business-class flight to Munich, where Lufthansa has just opened a beer lounge. "I recently read in the news that you lost a very special phone at a German beer bar in California," reads a letter from the airline's Americas marketing director, Nicola Lange.
45Mbps airline Internet
Having presented the technology during the Immarsat Aeronautical Conference, one company claims it can significantly boost the speeds of in-flight Internet. Wi-SKY is promising download rates as fast as 45Mbps, potentially dozens of times quicker than the access offered by airlines like Virgin America. Taking to the air, Wi-SKY is last Tuesday said to have demonstrated seamless streaming for functions like Skype video calls.
United in-flight Internet
United Airlines will bring in-flight Internet access to a portion of its planes later this year, according to an announcement. The company has specifically chosen AirCell's gogo service, which has already been attached to companies like Delta, American Airlines and Virgin America. Passengers will be able to connect via any Wi-Fi device, and access conventional Internet functions such as e-mail and web browsing, or more elaborate ones like VPN tunneling.
FlightTrack for iPhone
Developer Ben Kazez has introduced FlightTrack, a new program for iPhones and iPod touches. The app uses data from FlightView to display flight routes in real-time, as well as related information. Aside from visual depiction of a flight's progress, users are given arrival and departure times, the current weather situation, and even the current speed and altitude of a particular plane.
Skies friendlier for iPods
United Airlines on Monday said it is the first U.S. Carrier to offer iPod and iPhone connectivity to its in-flight entertainment systems. The hook-ups will allow passengers to view video content on their own 15.4 inch “personal television” as their iPod or iPhone charges. United says the upgrades will be installed in first and business class in its entire international widebody fleet over the next two years.
iPods on Singapore Air
iPods and iPhones are now supported on some flights out of the US, Singapore Airlines has announced. The company says that beginning today, business-class, non-stop A345 flights from Newark to Singapore will offer special 30-to-9-pin adapter cables to go along with its KrisWorld in-flight entertainment technology. This will allow passengers to not only listen to music through KrisWorld, but watch video on a larger LCD, and power their players at the same time.
Airline iPod giveaway
A transatlantic airline is giving away iPods in order to lure and retain customers, according to an announcement. Eos Airlines says that between today and April 11th, people booking flights between New York and London will be eligible for some form of free iPod, depending on ticket prices. Those spending $4,000 or less on a round trip can secure either an iPod nano, or 15,000 points for Eos services; if the tickets cost more than $4,000, people can pick an iPod classic, or 30,000 points.
Luggage lithium ban
Within days, air travellers will no longer be able hold loose lithium batteries in their luggage, the US Department of Transportation says. As of January 1st, batteries will either have to be inserted into a phone, notebook or other electronic device, or else dropped into a plastic bag, and bundled along with carry-on baggage in a limit of two batteries per passenger.
The issue, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, is that if a lithium battery catches fire while in a cargo hold, current extinguishing systems are unable to stop the blaze. The National Transportation Safety Board insists that it cannot rule out lithium as the source of a plane fire at the Philadelphia International Airport in 2006.
Airline Internet filtering
As airlines begin resuming in-flight Internet services, some have already decided to filter what passengers can do, writes the Associated Press. American Airlines -- confirming plans -- will be joined by Alaska Airlines in soon blocking access to VoIP services such as Skype, while companies such as Virgin America are currently contemplating a ban. The problem is that VoIP not only consumes large amounts of bandwidth, but may generate tremendous noise in a cabin from numerous ongoing conversations. Wi-Fi-enabled handsets could help circumvent the bandwidth concern.
Air France tests cellular
Air France has become the world's first airline to equip an international flight with a form of regular cellular technology, says the Associated Press. One of the company's Airbus A318s now lets users send e-mail and text messages through an onboard GSM antenna, which connects to a satellite that in turn transmits to the ground. The main obstacle for the service, at the moment, is infrequency; aside from only being a part of a six-month test, not all flights on the A318 will have access. To this end a "No Mobile" light has been installed in the plane.
American Airlines Wi-Fi?
American Airlines may be the next company to adopt in-flight Internet via Wi-Fi, an anonymous tip claims. According to the source, transcontinental 767-200s will be fitted with broadband and Wi-Fi in 2008, the responsible company being AirCell. Earlier this year, AirCell announced that it had acquired FCC frequencies which would allow it to resurrect Wi-Fi; the technology had by that point long vanished from US flights, as Boeing's Connexion service had suffered a financial collapse.
Cellular boarding passes
Some airline passengers boarding in Houston, Texas today may be the first in the US to use their cellphones as boarding passes. Continental Airlines and the Transportation Security Administration have launched a pilot project at George Bush International Airport, in which fliers with cellphones (or PDA-like devices) are able to receive on-screen barcodes, which are in turn scanned by TSA employees at an appropriate checkpoint. The specific implementation of the technology is not being used anywhere else in the world, claims TSA official Melvin Carraway.