Gogo has been showing off a new app at the SXSW 2014 festival. The app aims to make in-flight communications a lot easier. Major airlines already offer in-flight Wi-Fi and other connectivity options, Gogo seems heavily invested in the idea of letting passengers make calls and texts while they’re 35,000 feet up in the air. It showed off the app in action to several journalists who were taken up in the company’s private jet.
Reactions were mixed at best. The Wall Street Journal’s Geoffrey Fowler described the call quality as “garbled,” whereas USA Today’s Edward Baig believed that it was “surprisingly decent.” There’s consensus on the fact that this app has potential and that it can make communication a lot easier for passengers traveling on U.S. commercial flights.
The app actually requires Gogo’s inflight Wi-Fi service to function. Users are to put their phones in airplane mode and connect to the company’s in-flight Wi-Fi. The Gogo app is then used to make calls and send texts, incoming calls and texts are routed through the app as well. For folks on the ground, its like they’re being contacted through a conventional phone.
Gogo is planning to bring this capability to U.S. commercial flights later this year. If you’re flush enough to afford your own private jet, ring up Gogo and they’ll set it up right away. Major U.S. carriers haven’t shown any interest so far, and a bill that’s making its way through Congress aiming to ban in-flight calls may also get in the way.