Air NZ data charges

February 8th, 2011 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Passengers on ’s new black A320 will be able to make phone calls, send texts and check emails – if they are customers.

The plane is one of two A320s which the airline is making “mobile phone capable” in the next month.

Being able to text and e-mail will be useful. Not so sure about the wisdom of voice calls, but to be fair in theory one can already make these on their international flights through the in seat phones.

Passengers will pay roaming costs of $3.50 a minute and 80c for every outbound text. They will also pay $20 per megabyte of data.

Well fuck that. $20,000 per GB of data is insanely high.

Will they also charge for incoming calls and texts?

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37 Responses to “Air NZ data charges”

  1. Michaels (1,233 comments) says:

    Why if only on Vodafone?
    Did they feel Telecoms data was to expensive?? :)

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  2. pq (728 comments) says:

    Vodaphone is dead Farrar,also Vodafone is dead,
    its a dead joke

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  3. Redbaiter (11,880 comments) says:

    Don’t worry, there are plenty of airlines out there better than Air New Zealand, and they will not be charging such clueless rates for data.

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  4. pq (728 comments) says:

    every time I see Redbaiter here I feel better

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  5. Michaels (1,233 comments) says:

    You say this why pq?

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  6. Monty (899 comments) says:

    Yes they intend to charge for Incoming calls – about $2 per minute from memory.
    I’ll just sit back and be out of contact I think

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  7. Grizz (613 comments) says:

    You can’t turn your phone off for an hour?

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  8. TWF (22 comments) says:

    surely they mean 20c/MB?

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  9. big bruv (14,217 comments) says:

    “Passengers on Air New Zealand’s new black A320″

    Just the start of what will be a year full of cultural cringe stories surrounding the tax payer funded Rugby World cup.

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  10. marcw (259 comments) says:

    It’s bad enough now that we have to put up with prats on their mobiles in restaurants, public transport, and other quiet areas. Who in their right mind would want to be in earshot of some needy social misfit for an hour and a half while trapped at 35,000 feet? I just can’t see why this is necessary. Will they pace back and forth in the aisle too as they make sure as many of us possible know how important they must be to make these calls? Lord spare us.

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  11. Chris2 (775 comments) says:

    Ironically, the “Travel” supplement in today’s Herald (link below) includes an item by one of their staff who traveled on the new black-painted Air NZ Boeing 777-300 plane from the LA to Auckland.

    She is scathing about the reduced seating room in this new plane’s Economy section, noting that when the passenger in front reclined their seat, there was not enough room for her to even open her laptop PC, on her lap.

    So, that’s one way to avoid data charges – don’t give the passengers any room to even use their laptops on the flight.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/travel/news/article.cfm?c_id=7&objectid=10704723

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  12. lastmanstanding (1,310 comments) says:

    As one who was around in the 80s when we had bricks and by God they were bricks this is a backward step for me.

    Oh for the days when you could ignore the BOSS and HEAD OFFICE by being out of cell phone coverage or before that when you couldnt fine a pay phone that worked.

    Now you are in bloody contact 24/7 no peace no quiet just the constant demands.

    the current thrusters dont know what they have missed When life was much slower and less in your face and you actually had a life instead of being locked into to the job 24/7.

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  13. dimmocrazy (286 comments) says:

    It’s called “market skimming” and it’s bloody beautiful, as it means that the “early adapting” idiots are paying for the infrastructure.

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  14. Viking2 (11,672 comments) says:

    Easy to avoid. Don’t use the phone. Just like driving your car. Cheap if you do that.

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  15. Redbaiter (11,880 comments) says:

    Thanks for the laugh Marcw. (4:49) Very good comment.

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  16. virtualmark (1,306 comments) says:

    I know this service is running through Inmarsat – hence the stratospheric data charges. And I know Air New Zealand is oh so badly trying to be a hip young huge listed corporate (yeah, like that will work).

    But this is a PR disaster in the making.

    Sometime soon after this service goes live there’s going to be a well-meaning and not-so-technical old lady who forgets to turn off her phone, and runs up $500 or so of data charges on a $59 flight. She’s going to go to John Campbell and the Moustache, who’ll tell a tale of uncaring corporate greed etc etc. Someone – not the old lady – is going to have to pick up the tab, but not before they look like extortionate grinches.

    Frankly, if Vodafone and Air New Zealand want to look like market progressives they should sort out a ground-based signal system like you see in the States. Until then, any Inmarsat system is just waiting there to blow up in their face.

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  17. side show bob (3,410 comments) says:

    Cool, be able to order drinks from the bar without looking like an alcoholic.

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  18. adze (2,130 comments) says:

    Lol @ $20 a MB.

    Still, it’ll come down. Eventually airplanes will be designed properly so they are intrinsicly safe against stray EMF signals; a good idea anyway in case of solar storms, gamma ray bursts and the occasional nuclear war :)

    I see Inmarsat’s new global xpress ™ network is due to go live in 2014. The beginning of a true datasphere.

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  19. dime (10,213 comments) says:

    $20 a meg??? some people are gonna get a nasty shock when the bill comes in.

    i think there should be a prize for the first dude who downloads a movie during flight :P

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  20. Rex Widerstrom (5,013 comments) says:

    adze suggests:

    Eventually airplanes will be designed properly so they are intrinsicly safe against stray EMF signals

    “Mythbusters” devoted an entire episode to trying to do anything to an airplane’s electronics with a mobile phone (on the ground, of course). From memory they ended up with dozens of mobiles in the “plane” all ringing and texting and there wasn’t a flicker on any of the instruments.

    When I had a go in a commercial flight simulator, which is real enough to be used to train people going for their commercial pilots’ licenses, I tried the same thing (albeit with one cellphone). Again, not a thing.

    Has there ever been so much as one air disaster or near miss where the accident investigators have said “It would have been fine except for the guy in 4B sending a text?”.

    Yet more restrictions on people, clearly with the idea of making this sort of exorbitant profit from people. And it’s not like this is new technology and the airlines are playing catch-up. They’ve had a couple of decades to test the technology and figure it out.

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  21. adze (2,130 comments) says:

    Seems you might be on the right track Rex, here’s a snippet from the relevant Wiki article:

    Boeing performed extensive tests as reported in AeroMagazine’s Interference from Electronic Devices[2] in response to reports by flight crews of anomalies that they believed to be caused by electronic devices. The flight crews had apparently confirmed the effect by switching the “suspect” devices on and off and watching the effects. Despite this and despite the fact that Boeing in many cases was able to purchase the actual offending device from the passenger and use it in extensive testing Boeing was never able to reproduce any of the anomalies. The report concludes:

    As a result of these and other investigations, Boeing has not been able to find a definite correlation between PEDs and the associated reported airplane anomalies.

    ABC News 20/20 aired a report in December 2007 trying to get to the bottom of the ban on cell phone usage in aircraft. They interviewed one of the authors of the IEEE Spectrum report cited below but also noted that this study was not designed to actually detect interference–only that cellphones which are not switched off. The report concludes that the primary reason for the ban on cell phone use in flight is that neither the FAA nor the FCC are willing to spend the money to perform conclusive safety tests. They have left this up to the airlines who do not see any return on investment made in paying for such tests. According to the 20/20 website[3] ABC News consultant and veteran airline pilot John J. Nance states categorically:

    There’s little reason to worry about cell phones interfering with an airplane’s navigational equipment. Nance says an airplane’s electronic systems are “all heavily shielded. That means that stray signals cannot get into those systems.”

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  22. adze (2,130 comments) says:

    I see the same article references a USA Today article quoting cellphone company Cingular, who suggest that the cellphone ban should remain in place because of the nuisance effect of having some asshole talking loudly next to other passengers.

    $20 a minute for VOX is a good idea :)

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  23. Michael (913 comments) says:

    What Adze said, I don’t want to sit next to some prick who can’t wait an hour to use a phone.

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  24. Rex Widerstrom (5,013 comments) says:

    Michael:

    I, on the other hand, who have to sit for six to nine hours to get to various destinations on domestric flights – let alone people flaying to Europe where they may be in the air for days – might not mind so much. Anyway it’s not so much talking on the phone I want to do, it’s sending and receiving emails and working online.

    Here’s an idea for the airlines – charge reasonable rates for cellphone services and bill Luddite customers for using the cone of silence :-D

    Adze:

    That reference material is interesting. I wonder how someone would go in court if they used their phone on a flight and got penalised by the airline, then took them to court and asked for evidence of harm as opposed to speculation?

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  25. TimG_Oz (866 comments) says:

    I flew the Qantas A380 to LA, and yes, i paid to receive inflight texts and phone calls. But it was definitely worth it.. When you’re stuck on a plane for 14 hours, it’s worth it to have a few minutes to speak to the nearest + dearest.

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  26. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    Here was me thinking a book and movies were the way to fill in the gaps when flying.

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  27. ZenTiger (375 comments) says:

    I think the rates sound quite reasonable, given that sending data to a plane must require faster transmission speeds so the packets can catch up and jump on. Especially if flying away from the data source.

    In fact, I heard that pilots will have to slow down to half speed to ensure that those 3GB uploads of repeat episodes of Friends will be received (and well worth the $60,000 too) otherwise, the laugh track might not make the transmission, and completely ruin the episode.

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  28. Julian (133 comments) says:

    This may be a stupid question, but how can Air NZ guarantee you’re connected to their roaming network and not simply to Vodafone? (Unless you’re over the Tasman or somewhere).

    I also don’t think people should be liable for roaming charges simply because they’ve left their phone on. Air NZ’s network should require manual connection.

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  29. wreck1080 (3,999 comments) says:

    the phone will connect to the base station with the strongest signal – which, will of course be on the plane .

    I wonder, though, if the base station breaks down, then all the cellphones will search for ground based stations.

    but, maybe I am wrong.

    I do know, they offer similar services to cruise liners and ferrys.

    I’ve also heard, that making calls from the air can cause issues with the ground based cellular network – because the phone can see so many more cell sites than usual it is outside the parameters of expected conditions and can cause software to glitch. But, not sure if this is true or not, and probably this has been fixed already.

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  30. tristanb (1,127 comments) says:

    Well fuck that. $20,000 per GB of data is insanely high.

    Well, probably not the best time to torrent an HD movie then. Put in an even more extreme way – it’s $20 million per terabyte! Nearly worth launching your own satellite into orbit for? Or you could try to attach a really long coil of Cat5e to the plane.

    But it’s still a reasonable price if you’re just checking your oh-so-important-business email, and you can’t wait until you land and $4 isn’t too much. When cellphones first got internet it was nearly that expensive to use them on the ground.

    For people who defend the right of businesses to ramp up their prices on a public holiday, you sure do whinge about internet costs!

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  31. adze (2,130 comments) says:

    Rex, I think they’d be fined under FCC regulations, not (just) under airline policy.

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  32. libertyscott (344 comments) says:

    A service that wasn’t available before, and is available now, is being charged at the rate necessary to recover some of the upfront set up costs.

    However, it does simply debase flying another level, as the twatterati resume their addiction to constantly communicating every inane moment of their mundane lives to others who share similar spheres of mind numbing boredom that they can’t simply sit with their own thoughts or a book. All acting as if they are in the midst of a life or death battle that means they need instant communication everywhere all the time.

    Still, if people want to email or text while on a flight, it doesn’t bother me as long as some inane beeping is suppressed. What is most disconcerting are phone calls made by the inconsiderate halfwits who think they need to shout on a phone for people to hear them.

    Lufthansa has announced it will roll out email and SMS on flights, but not calls – on long haul routes in particular the last thing I would want is some git with a cellphone ringing in the midst of an overnight flight, and then shouting “I’m on a plane.. yeah.. cool eh”.

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  33. pq (728 comments) says:

    vIRGIN

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  34. Jim (358 comments) says:

    I vaguely recall that volume based Internet in NZ was around $0.20 per megabyte in the early-mid ’90s. So this is only 100 times more expensive. Way back then (last century) it was also *cheaper* to provide Internet via satellite that it was by undersea cable.

    How times have changed.

    Singapore Air once offered WiFi on long-haul flights (mid ’00s) but this was canned when Boeing’s Connexion service was shut down. For a while it was free and I tried it on a flight from NZ. Worked well enough to check email. I would not begrudge a similar service at that price.

    Now SIA’s service is about to be relaunched at $8 / megabyte. Still crazy pricing.

    AirNZ should be looking at the US carriers’ ground-based mobile data which runs at much lower rates – like fixed $10 per flight.

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  35. KiwiGreg (3,278 comments) says:

    @wreck it’s really hard to get service other than through the plane unless you are down around 3000 feet or so. Did once get a text tho at 42,000 feet going over San Diego but think that was pretty random.

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  36. barry (1,191 comments) says:

    TimG_Oz

    The A320 dont fly to LA…………….

    David –
    why are you surprised about AirNZ charging for outgoing and incoming. Did you think they would do this FOR NOTHING!!!

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  37. PaulP (156 comments) says:

    Just as bad as a tossa screeming loudly into his phone while sitting next to you will be the person that hasn;t turned off their keypad tones sending a long text. I’ll be sure to pack my ear plugs!

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