Those who have been flying for three decades or more will no doubt remember Airfone. It was an air-to-ground cordless telephone that required users to go to the back of the plane, insert their credit card to release the handset and go back to their seat to make their calls. Watch the throwback video below:
Calls were crazy expensive even though their ad claimed otherwise: “Telephone calls are very affordable. A call anywhere in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, is only $7.50 for the first three minutes and $1.25 for each additional minute.”
I was in college back then and tried it once and thought it was the coolest thing in the world. Airlines later started offering them in seatbacks so you could make the call from your seat. I actually bought one of the old sets at an aviation trade show for $10 for my office … which reminds me, I should probably go wipe it down with a disinfectant wipe LOL
In 2006, I made my first phone call from the sky for free while flying SAS over the Atlantic Ocean and using Skype. My friend thought I was kidding (similar to when I received my first call from the sky from a neighbor.) Another memorable related experience was when I was on a cruise and my brother was in the sky and we were texting each other from different remote parts of the world.
Planes and technology still fascinate me today. It’s amazing that these huge metal birds can get off the ground with so many people inside and transport us all over the world in such a short time, comfortably and, most importantly, safely. Then, when you add in the ability to communicate with friends, colleagues and family for relatively cheap or free, it’s unbelievable. We really do live in an amazing time. This reminds me of that hilarious Louis C.K. clip about how everything is amazing but nobody’s happy. Watch the clip below:
Fortunately, the Airfone didn’t take off and neither have in-flight calls (they’re strictly forbidden in the U.S.) and I really hope they don’t ever since so many passengers are already too annoying, talking loudly and/or watching videos without headphones or earbuds. Here are 10 terrible, horrible, no good, very bad airplane habits.
If you’re unable to watch the Airfone video, here’s the full transcript:
“Announcing a new age in communication. Announcing Airfone, the air-to-ground telephone service now featured on this flight. Like so many of you, much of my life is spent flying on planes. In transit and out of touch. With Airfone, my flight time is no longer downtime. I can call my clients and business associates, my family and friends. I can keep up with my life even when I’m 30,000 feet up in the air.
You’ll find easy-to-follow operating instructions in your seat back. And on each Airfone wall unit and handset, just take a major credit card such as Citicorp Diners Club and insert it into the Airfone wall unit face up and with a credit card name to the right. Next, lower the door handle this tone tells you that Airfone is speedily verifying your credit card. You will then be instructed to remove the handset. The phone is portable and cordless. You can even take it back to your seat for more convenience. To operate, first press the dial tone button listen for the tone, then dial an area code and phone number. It’s as simple as that.
You can also call any 800 number. Plus, you never need an operator. And you can dial directory assistance free of charge. If all the circuits are busy, just wait a moment. Just press the dial tone button and try again.
I’ve got Paul out in Chicago. Are we confirmed for 8 o’clock? We sure are.
Airfone’s air-to-ground telephone calls are very affordable. A call anywhere in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, is only $7.50 for the first three minutes and $1.25 for each additional minute. Your charge will appear on your monthly credit card statement. When your conversation is over, all you have to do is press the hang-up button. To make another call, just push the dial tone button and dial again. When you’re through making all your calls, return the air phone handset. Make sure the handset number matches the number on the wall unit. Replace the handset by inserting the bottom first and then pushing the top firmly into place. In a few seconds, a door handle will open automatically and you can remove your credit card. Airfone: Because today you can’t afford to be out of touch.”
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