When Texting Is Up in the Air

Posted on December 2, 2013


With all the smartphone-app accoutrements that enable video calls, live chat, group conferences and Bluetooth-connected voice conversations, don’t be surprised if good old texting resumes its place as the hottest capability in the mobile repertoire.

The FAA is giving its approval to use of mobile phones in flight, including voice calls, texting and Internet. But the only thing more annoying than a crying baby across the aisle would be an executive next to you who loudly laments a lost project bid during the entire transcontinental flight. At least the baby will eventually fall asleep. So observers anticipate that airlines will continue to ban voice calls but permit texting. Wi-Fi provider Gogo already has announced it will offer a text-and-talk app to airlines.

Of course, we already can send and receive email and use the Internet in flight, but squeezing a laptop between our knees and a seatback may not be something we would want to do for three or four hours in the air. With airlines giving a lift to texting, however, we may find new ways to conduct urgent business.  Here are five examples of ways that texting in-flight can make us more efficient:

  • Changes in meeting times or locations at the destination city no longer will be last-minute surprises when phones are turned back on as the plane lands. Executives can be provided with hours of notice via text messages and can make new arrangements themselves via the Internet or request help from associates via text.
  • Images can be attached to text messages to show where the driver picking up the executive has parked and what the vehicle looks like.
  • Voice recordings can be attached to a text message to offer more detailed instructions to colleagues or to ask questions that need to be answered via text while the executive is in flight.
  • Business teams traveling together but finding themselves in distant corners of the aircraft can text each other to communicate plans and agree on presentation points.
  • Ultimately, the airlines themselves likely will augment their texting services beyond sending notices to passengers about delayed flights or gate changes. Passengers could communicate directly with customer service personnel to answer more specific questions, such as which restaurants are closest to the arrival gate, or will they need to unpack their jackets to stay warm after they land.

Texting may be one of the smartphone’s earliest services, but its latest applications while traveling can be the keys to a more successful trip.