Certainly, it's even worse news when you are informed of that fact when you are the founder and CEO of a company that has created a smartphone app that allows users to make calls using VOIP. No, we're not talking about Skype, we're talking about Viber, and the incident ended with Talmon Marco being escorted off a Delta Air Lines jet earlier this week.
Marco, 39, was en route from New Orleans to New York. He decided to use the airline's in-flight wi-fi along with (what else) his company's own app, in order to call an associate. As he did so, Marco was approached by a flight attendant and told he had to turn off his phone. While he ended the call immediately, he then explained that his phone was in fact switched to flight mode, and that the call was made using VOIP and wi-fi.
The flight attendant gave Marco the wrong information, saying that it was a flight safety issue, which is of course, incorrect as he was using wi-fi. However, the FAA does note that airlines block the use of in-flight calling using VOIP applications not because of an FAA safety requirement, but because the carriers are “simply responding to the overwhelming majority of their customers, who prefer silent communications to the public nature of Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) calls.”
the lack of sidetone.
Eventually, back on Marco's flight, it was said by another flight attendant that the actual issues was with the Terms of Service of use of the in-flight wi-fi, provided by Gogo. However, as Marco continued to discuss the matter, they eventually told him he was being difficult.
When the plane landed at LaGuardia, two Port Authority police officers escorted Marco off the plane, but when he explained his side of the story, the officers released him without further incident.
Marco wants an apology from Delta. Meanwhile, Delta, in a statement, reiterated that it was Gogo's ToS that were at issue and clarified what could and could not be used on their flights.
“Delta fully supports a ban on cell phone voice transmissions. We are not, however, opponents of in-flight data transmissions (i.e. text and e-mail messages) provided they do not interfere with flight deck navigational equipment."
Perhaps next time, Marco will use instant message (chat). Viber works on Android, iOS, Windows Phone and even BlackBerry.
However, there's no end to in-flight scofflaws, you can bet. A recent Airfarewatchdog.com poll of more than 1,200 people found nearly a quarter of them, or 24 percent, admitted that they don’t always comply when asked to turn off their electronic devices prior to take off.