Just when it looked as though cell phone use on airplanes might be deemed safe, the latest research suggests otherwise. Last summer, several airlines finally began allowing passengers to place and receive calls during the boarding process until the doors closed, and in some cases, during long delays before takeoff. But a new study by Britain's Civil Aviation Authority indicates that signals emitted by cell phones can indeed be strong enough to interfere with the aircraft's electronics. The CAA therefore recommends that cell phones not be used whenever a plane's engines are running. The findings contradict those of earlier U.S. studies, which have concluded that such interference is rare.
Even with the new data, the major U.S. airlines aren't making any quick changes. American, Delta, Northwest, Southwest, United, and US Airways, all of which have relaxed their cell phone policies, maintain that the danger, at least during the boarding process, is nonexistent.
Improved technology may soon resolve the issue, anyway. Motorola and AirCell recently announced successful tests of a new system using Bluetooth wireless technology that permits cell phones to operate in flight without causing interference.
CAN'T MISS YOUR CALLS AT 30,000 FEET?VIRGIN TO THE RESCUE
Though you can't yet make in-flight calls on your cell phone, British Telecom and Virgin Atlantic have come up with a way you can place and receive calls via your cell phone number, by routing them to the phone at your seat. Virgin expects to offer the service on all its planes by the end of the year. To gain access, you get a card from your service provider, which you swipe in the plane's phone. The cost: $8 a minute for incoming calls, $9 for outgoing. The system will work worldwide, but currently it's only compatible with GSM phones, which aren't used in the United States. A Virgin spokeswoman says the system should be available for U.S. phones in the near future. –Jim Glab
HERE'S SOMETHING WE LOVE: At the hotel principe di savoia in Milan (a favorite with the fashion crowd–see below), new services aimed at female business travelers include a special dining area and – what next?– private bodyguards upon request.
Going My Way
name: Rose Marie Bravo
title: Worldwide Chief Executive of Burberry.
home bases: Residences in London, where the company is based, and New York City.
where do you travel the most? About once a month, I go to America, and then I make two or three trips to other places–Paris, Milan, Asia.
do you have a favorite hotel?The Principe di Savoia in Milan. It has so many nice accoutrements: Guerlain skin products, full manicure kits, hosiery in case you get a run.
how do you beat jet lag? I have a massage. Keeping up with my exercise routine helps, too. I've found that a lot of Asian hotels have really first-rate health clubs. They even give you workout outfits if you need them. what clothes are always in your suitcase? Black silk trousers–you can dress them up or down with the right accessories. I also always bring a little evening bag, and a mini-umbrella and rain hat–Burberry, of course.