The French disconnection


It’s the end of the world. Or at least it’s the end of Western civilization.

Air France announced today that it will take delivery early next year of the first Airbus aircraft line fitted with the OnAir GSM equipment, which will allow passengers to use mobile phones on board.

(Boeing is testing a similar system and two other European airlines, TAP and bmi, have also dabbled in on-board cell service.)

The airline will conduct a six-month commercial trial using the new service on short-haul flights within Europe and to and from North African destinations. The evaluation will “help Air France to consider every impact this new service may have on the cabin environment and the travel experience,” according to a news release.


No need for that. I can tell you what the effect is going to be: chaos.

Hey, maybe I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about manners and travel, but unless this kind of thing is tightly regulated, it could spin out of control.

Already, many buses and trains have “no talking” areas for passengers who just want a little peace and quiet.

My suggestion: set up a designated “cell phone” section for chatty travelers. Do it before the test starts, my French friends, because once this genie is out of the bottle, you won’t be able to put it back inside.


Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org.

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