Business travellers sceptical of in-flight mobile merits

4 Apr 2007 by business traveller

Nearly sixty per cent of business travellers do not want to see the introduction of mobile phones in-flight, according to the latest Barclaycard Business Travel Survey.

The survey, which questioned 4,000 business travellers across the UK, also found that views on the controversial service differ significantly depending on the respondent's role within their company. Only three out of ten company managers would welcome the introduction of mobile phone services onboard, whereas this figure rises to 43 per cent for CEOs. The survey also suggests that women are slightly more against the idea than men (62 per cent versus 57 per cent respectively).

Currently Ryanair and Emirates both plan to introduce commercial in-flight mobile phone services once regulatory approval has been received (see online news November 9, 2006), while several airlines including BMI and TAP Portugal have undertaken trials to assess the feasibility of the service. Public concern appears to surround annoyance from increased noise levels rather than any safety fears, as those who responded against the service said they would not welcome the use of mobile phones whilst flying even if the technology is proved risk free. Says Denise Leleux, director of business cards, Barclaycard Business:

"A number of airlines have publicly announced in-flight mobile trials, however our research shows that a large number of business travellers are wary. This suggests that business people want to preserve this as a time to work or relax without fear of being interrupted, overheard, or having to listen to the person next to them."

However Emirates says it will include welcome messages when users turn on their phones, requesting passengers to turn their phones to silent, and add that the technology will allow staff to turn off voice calls when appropriate. For more information on the subject read Plane Speaking in the June 2006 edition of Business Traveller.

While business travellers may be unsure of some types of technology, they are embracing new check-in options in ever greater numbers. According to the Barclaycard survey 58 per cent of respondents used a self service check-in facility last year (up from 53 per cent the year before), and 42 per cent checked in online (a rise of seven percent). Of course this may well be out of necessity, with airlines such as BA and BMI investing heavily in self-service kiosks and cutting the number of traditional check-in desks.

Report by Mark Caswell

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