I know you all think I'm completely obsessed by in-flight Internet: So, how about another story. This one is about how your faithful editor managed to miss the fact that on 19-February, RyanAir put 20 planes into action with OnAir's mobile voice and data service.
This comes about 2 1/2 years after the announcement that RyanAir would equip its entire fleet of over 170 Boeing 737-800s with chattering class service. The airline expects to equip 50 planes within 6 months. Most of the initial 20 planes fly from Dublin.
OnAir doesn't offer Internet service; the satellite costs are far too high for that. However, you can make voice calls, send text messages, and mobile-based emails. Rates are crazily high, which is typical for Europe. Phone calls are charged at international roaming rates of from €2 to €3; emails are €1 to €2 each; and text messages €0.50 each.
These are estimated prices. OnAir acts in some ways as a separate carrier and must negotiate deals individually or through clearinghouses with the mobile operators for any passenger who wants to make a call. At launch, it appears that O2 and Vodafone are on board, but not Orange or 3. OnAir says 50 carriers are signed up. Carriers choose the precise price their subscribers pay, and present the charges to them on their normal mobile bill.