No Call Zone


by Tim Moran

The release features a picture of a youngish man and woman smooching on an airplane, while an older woman sits, arms crossed, in the next seat, seething.

The bold type reads:

Line2 Lets You Love Thy Neighbor On Airplanes Carrier-Grade SMS Texting For Aircraft With Wi-Fi Keeps You In Touch Without Disturbing Other Passengers

Clever enough. The new 3.0 version of the Line2 app for iPhones and other i-devices "lets air passengers stay in contact [...] without disturbing other passengers with loud voice calls."

But Line2 still markets the ease of sending -- and receiving -- voice phone calls while airborne, for just $9.95 a month.

Which takes us back to the company's own comparison: is gabbing on your iPhone during a flight any less annoying than smooching across the country? Might the same sense of propriety that restricts tongues to their own mouths in public places keep them from wagging while aloft? Probably not. And therein lies the problem.

"Just because Line2 technology makes it possible to make phone calls over airplane Wi-Fi, doesn't mean it's okay," said Peter Sisson, who happens to be the founder and CEO of Toktumi (say it three times fast), the company behind Line2. "I, personally, would go crazy if a loud talker was yapping with someone on the phone on a long flight."

So even though Sisson touts texting as a quiet in-flight alternative to voice connections, he still has to count on the kindness of strangers, who supposedly will avoid making calls -- or taking them. "Thanks for calling, honey I'd really love to talk, but that Sisson guy is two seats behind me, and, well, you know how he feels about using his app for talking while in flight. Let's text, instead, OK?"