An Inflight Mobile Connection
“Ladies and gentlemen, now is the time to stow away your portable electronics: iPads, iPods, iPhones, and iBabies.” Light laughter flows throughout the cabin and the flight attendant continues, “We will be pushing back from the gate shortly.”
Afterward the usual flight safety talk, I shoot a quick text message under the nose of an attendant while keeping an eye on her and making sure she doesn’t move too quickly. In an unfortunate and unforeseen moment, we exchange eye contact and I quickly shut off my phone and wonder if my ride home has been confirmed.
Flight attendants may be faced with more resistance from passengers like me when it comes to shutting off their mobile devices with the growing popularity of airborne wireless connectivity. On April 8th, Panasonic eXConnect, an inflight mobile provider, launched a Tweetathon aboard 6 planes flying over 5 different countries. Passengers were encouraged to tweet as many times as they could during the flight about menus, flight status, pictures, and thoughts while hash-tagging #High5Live in their posts. The Tweetathon occurred on five different airlines over the course of five hours, and resulted in 650 tweets, accumulating over 4 million impressions. Participants primarily used their mobile smartphones to take part in the event.
Many agree that the ever-expanding possibilities of mobile technology have reached aviation’s doorstep. Wireless internet has been available in-flight for a few years, but now in-flight wireless internet is coupled with natural impulse of mobile phone use extends our mobile activities in the sky too – mobile apps for social media, search through mobile websites and mobile apps to play games. David Bruner, Panasonic’s Vice President of Global Communications, marks the event a “tipping point in global communications.” A tipping point that has been long coming… 35,000 feet and a few scary flight attendants is no obstacle to those who wish to stay connected with their friends and family on the ground.