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Easyjet passengers allowed to use gadgets on flights
Apr 16th, 2014 by elisa

Easyjet passengers are now allowed to use personal electronic devices throughout their whole flight, including during take-off and landing.

Gadgets such as laptops, tablets and mobiles must be placed in ‘flight mode’ and mobiles cannot be used to make or receive calls or texts.

The move follows recent recommendations from the European Aviation Safety Agency, which have allowed for restrictions on the use of gadgets onboard aircraft to be relaxed.

Peter Duffy, Easyjet’s group commercial director, customer, product and marketing said: “We know that portable devices are an important part of our customers’ journey with us so we are pleased they can now use their electronic devices onboard in ‘Flight mode’ for the duration of their flight with us – we think this will be a popular change.”

Three more airlines sign up for inflight wi-fi
Apr 10th, 2014 by elisa

Three further airlines have signed up to OnAir, an IT system that allows for an inflight phone connection and wi-fi.

Kuwait Airways will fit 12 new aircraft and its fleet upgrades with Mobile OnAir and Internet OnAir delivered from December. TAAG Angola Airlines will introduce the technology on its new fleet, and Sri Lankan Airlines, which is also due to join the oneworld alliance on 1st May, is installing the system on six new aircraft as it renews its long-haul fleet.

OnAir, which is owned by SITA, the IT solutions provider to air transport, has regulatory approvals from over 100 countries as well as more than 375 roaming agreements.

Passengers will be able to use wi-fi, as well as phone, text, email and use their apps as usual from their phone. For Internet OnAir, passengers will log on and enter their credit card details before surfing the Internet just as they would at a wi-fi hotspot on the ground. Passengers using Mobile OnAir will have charges included in their monthly phone bill, as they would if they were using international roaming.

Track your flight stats
Apr 7th, 2014 by elisa

Want to know how many times you’ve flown around the world? A new online tool by British Airways shows customers how many times they would have flown around the world according to the total miles they’ve flown with the airline.

‘My Flightpath’ is available to members of the British Airways Executive Club and displays a timeline of all their flights since they joined. Members can also see where they’ve flown to, where they fly to most, and how many miles they’ve travelled.

Included in the site is ‘My Passport’ which awards stamps to customers when they reach certain milestones in their travels, such as the number of countries they’ve visited or number of miles flown. The stats can also be shared via social media.

Ian Romanis, head of customer engagement, said: “We wanted to give customers something that would help them to capture the magic of flying and we’re sure they will enjoy sharing their travelling milestones with their friends.”

Anyone with a BA booking can join the club free of charge and start tracking their stats.

Pre-ticked boxes for insurance add-ons could be banned
Mar 12th, 2014 by elisa

Pre-ticked boxes for insurance add-ons when purchasing services like a holiday could be banned by the Financial Conduct Authority.

The FCA claims the £1bn insurance add-on market is overcharging customers for products they may not need or use. An investigation in July 2013 by the FCA found poor competition at point of sale and low levels of claims. There was also a lack of information which prevented customers from making informed choices regarding the products.

25% of customers who bought insurance as an add-on were not aware that they could buy it separately elsewhere. 38% said they had not planned to buy the add-on before the purchase. 69% of those who bought it could not accurately remember how much they paid three to four months later, with 19% forgetting they had even bought it.

Christopher Woolard, director of policy, risk and research at the FCA, said: “There’s a clear case for us to intervene. Competition in this market is not working well and many consumers are simply not getting value for money.

“Firms must start putting consumers first and stop seeing them as pound signs.”

The FCA is proposing banning pre-ticked boxes to ensure consumers actively opt in to buy, and not have to choose to opt out. It will also require companies to publish claim ratios to highlight low-value products, which it hopes will encourage better quality products for consumers.

Smartphone users don’t browse, they ring
Feb 28th, 2014 by elisa

What’s the point of using a smartphone to book travel online when you are just going to ring the company anyway?

According to a new study from Google, 94% of smartphone users resort to contacting a business direct when searching products on their phone.

The travel sector’s click-to-call service, when mobile users can click through to call the company, has proved to be particularly popular. The service is mainly used during the purchase phase, and over half of the 1,500 people questioned would call a travel business to change their reservation or booking.

40% of people using their phones to search will resort to phoning a company when reserving a hire car, 37% when searching hotels, and 30% when looking at flights.

According to IAB Travel Audit 2013, 42% of the top 50 UK travel companies optimise their search results for mobile, and 45% of those use the click to call service.

Websites can only give so much information, and these results seem to show that many of us still like to conduct certain transactions person to person.

“Earth stations” for high-speed travel Wi-Fi
Feb 19th, 2014 by elisa

Ofcom has approved plans for high-speed wi-fi on planes and ships, allowing for speeds of up to ten times faster than currently available.

Late last month, the communications regulator announced the plans for the use of “earth stations” on moving vehicles. These devices can supply internet connection by linking to a geostationary satellite. They have been developed to track satellites more closely and provide a more reliable connection, even on fast-moving trains and planes.

Philip Marnick of Ofcom, said: “We want travellers to benefit from superfast broadband on the move at the kind of speeds they expect from their connection at home.

“Today’s decision means that operators of trains, boats and planes will soon be able to begin the process of making these valuable services available to their passengers.”

Earth stations on aircraft or ships will need to be licensed by Ofcom, while those mounted on land-based vehicles will not need such a licence. The regulator said that it is working on providing the licences to ships and aircraft from this month, with the first commercial use of the technology to begin later this year.

Lufthansa to allow passengers to use mobiles
Feb 8th, 2014 by elisa

Later this year, Lufthansa will allow all long-haul passengers to use their mobiles for texting and internet browsing from 30,000 feet. 

The airline already has eight aircraft with mobile connectivity, but will roll out the service across over 100 of its long-haul fleet using the Aeromobile network. Prices will be similar to ‘rest of world’ terrestrial roaming rates, said the airline.

AeroMobile’s services are also available on nine other airlines, including Etihad, Emirates and Virgin Atlantic. It’s available to customers of more than 240 mobile phone operators worldwide.

Customers can’t currently make voice calls on the service, but Lufthansa said it had not ruled the idea out.

“It’s great news that Lufthansa will be rolling out AeroMobile connectivity on their entire fleet this year; we know that passengers are keen to keep their mobile phones on inflight and Lufthansa clearly recognises the value of offering this service,” said Kevin Rogers, CEO of AeroMobile.

“The service will give travellers the flexibility to use their mobile devices as much or as little as they like during a flight, whether it’s to send an SMS to a loved one, keep on top of emails or update their Facebook status.”

Budget airline, Ryanair, has also announced that passengers will be able to use portable electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, MP3 players, laptops and e-readers for the flight’s duration, including take off and landing. However, all devices must be put into ‘flight mode’, so they can’t be used to go online, send texts or make calls.

 

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