And people are not happy about it. This loophole is starting to capture the attention of the flying public and more importantly. I use skype on a regular basis for talking to people throughout the world, and it is a wonderful tool. The clarity is better, and the cost is free if you are talking to another skype user, or very cheap if you are calling a telephone number.
However with this being said, I would go crazy if I was on an international flight and the person sitting next to me was talking on the phone the whole time.
But these days, there is a new wrinkle. Say you’re on El Al or maybe SAS or Lufthansa — one of the airlines that offers broadband Internet during flights for about $30 a trip. There are a lot of positives. You can do e-mail. You can get some Christmas shopping done. You can watch videos of curling.
But then the guy next to you boots up Skype. This is software that lets people make free or cheap phone calls over the Internet. Other software does this, too, including Yahoo Messenger.
Your seatmate connects to someone and starts talking. Maybe he has a headset — or maybe he doesn’t, and you have to hear both sides of the conversation as the other person crackles out of the laptop’s speakers.
There are no rules against this. It’s not a cellphone conversation. He is not using a BlackBerry or any unapproved electronic device. He’s on a laptop, on the plane’s Internet service, using software to make a phone call.
There’s not much you can do. You’re trying to read, but the guy is inches away from you in your coach seat. You feel the bile rising in your gullet. You read the same sentence six times, but all your brain takes in is the conversation next to you. And then the guy breaks out a webcam.