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Virgin Atlantic allows cell phone use in flight

Virgin Atlantic will allow its passengers to use cell phones while 35,000 feet in the air.

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Virgin Atlantic passengers can now use cell phones while 35,000 feet in the air, as of May 15, 2012. (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Virgin Atlantic announced on Tuesday that its passengers would be able to use cell phones while 35,000 feet in the air, according to the Associated Press.

The AP noted that while this might be a boon for business travelers who want to keep in touch during long flights, it might cause headaches for passengers stuck next to them.

The cell phone service will be available on the Airbus A330-300, according to ABC News, and will be called AeroMobile. It will be available to customers of O2, Vodafone and T-mobile networks only. It will also be limited to six users at a time.

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CNET reported that Virgin will charge approximately $1.20 per minute for the service, while the AP said customers would be charged by their mobile carriers.

The airline said the service was "intended for use in exceptional situations, when passengers need to send an SMS, make a quick call, or access an email on a Blackberry," according to ABC News.

The AP said the service will expand to 20 planes by the end of the year. It debuted on Tuesday, on a flight from New York to London.

AirfareWatchdog founder George Hobica predicted that the service would disrupt air travel conditions for passengers. In a statement, Hobica said, "But you know what will happen, no one will listen. There will be screaming matches, glares, and probably fisticuffs," according to the AP. He added, "I for one would gladly choose an airline that bans inflight yakking over one that allows it."

British Airways and some Middle Eastern airlines already offer cell phone access, according to CNET.

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