VoIP on a Plane!

Travel is something everyone should have a chance to experience. Unfortunately, not all will have the opportunity to visit every destination desired. It can be quite expensive but it is almost always worth the price in the end. If you’re not the traveling type, you should strongly reconsider jump starting your adventurous spirit. Have you ever heard someone say they regretted taking a vacation? It’s not very common!

Though a record number of Americans now hold a passport, not everyone that obtains international identification uses this for travel. Even at record numbers, this only amounts to about a third of the American population. I think it’s important to experience another culture by visiting another country – it can be very enlightening. Fortunately, even for those who cannot travel outside of the States, the US is quite diverse. Different states can sometimes seem like an entirely new world.

Substitute traveling

Thankfully, for those that don’t have the opportunity to travel, we have VoIP. Nothing replaces the embrace of an estranged loved one but a physical encounter isn’t always an option. At least tele-presence gives you the added dynamic by providing video, something that adds an additional dimension to a distant conversation. It’s nice to hear a voice but it’s better when you can see a face as well.

Sometimes, people simply don’t have the time to travel. If tending to a family or if job obligations keep a person in place, the ability to instantly connect with someone helps people to stay in touch without time consuming travel. Beside from personal benefits, there is a great business advantage to this method of communication.

Thanks to internet telephony, meeting with people has become much easier and less expensive. It’s quite the hassle to make a road trip in order to meet with clientele or business prospects. Especially, when multiple people are converging to plan or move forward with a project, scheduling can be a hassle when these people also need to undergo travel.

Fortunately, hosted providers like 8×8 offer a web-based Virtual Meeting solution that is easy for all participants to use, even those who are not customers. Of course, not all use multi-party tele-presence for business purposes. Applications that are free to use and offer video chatting capabilities, like ooVoo, can be quickly installed to a device for a virtual meeting with friends. For event planning that doesn’t require a business oriented, project management solution, free VoIP applications are useful for tasks like vacation planning with a disparate group of friends.

Snakes –err, VoIP on the Plane!

Have you heard of the new movie, VoIP on a Plane? It stars Samuel L. Jackson who returns in a follow up sequel to the cult movie from 2006, Snakes on a Plane. This time Agent Flynn has a bone to pick with VoIP using terrorists who are planning to launch an attack upon landing. He must decrypt world class encryption to uncover their plot and save the day.

You haven’t heard of it? It may sound like a great movie idea but sadly, it is not real. Write to director Sebastian Gutierrez if you, for some reason, think this idea should see the light of day.

Real VoIP on a plane

Perhaps VoIP on a plane isn’t dramatic enough for a Hollywood thriller, but it has stirred up a little controversy in the recent past. Airliner JetBlue is having issues with passengers who utilize VoIP services while in flight. Anyone who flies regularly knows that the airliner does not favor the use of electronic devices on take-off and sometimes, during flight as well. An entertaining story surfaced a couple of years ago when actor Alec Baldwin refused to quit playing ‘Words with Friends’ when his flight with American Airlines was prepping to leave. His childish temper tantrum was enough for the airline to remove him from the flight.

Whenever you are on a flight, you are regularly requested to turn off all electronic devices (which is mainly directed at cellular devices) even if your device has Airplane Mode as an available option. The reason is because of an FCC regulation that has been put into effect for safety reasons as regular phone frequencies can theoretically cause interference. Though this kind of disturbance has never been proven to be a factor for a system malfunction in the past, most would agree it’s probably not worth taking a chance.

Most airlines today offer a wireless data service like Wi-Fi so passengers can connect to the internet for the purpose of taking pictures through windows and posting them to Facebook. Also, Wi-Fi is very beneficial for professionals who have last minute adjustments to make and share with colleagues or clientele. Essentially, most airlines request that passengers do not engage in activity that could bother others in the vicinity. As such, VoIP services are usually forbidden.

JetBlue has been very relaxed in enforcing such a policy. However, the US DoT is considering placing a ban that would make in-flight VoIP calls illegal. JetBlue is confronting the situation early, now mandating passengers to refrain from using VoIP while on the plane.

It is probably still okay to use VoIP for services like SMS. However, if you are flying with JetBlue or any other airliner, I would not recommend broadcasting your “gray area” behavior to crew or other passengers. Perhaps ask first – I hear Air Marshalls can be unpleasant!

About the author  ⁄ Mike

Mike has written for WhichVoIP.com for many years and has an extensive knowledge of the telecommunications market.

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