Inflight cell phone use may still be a no-no in the United States, but flyers Down Under will soon get the chance to use their phones while in the air. The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that Australia's largest airline is launching a test program that will allow passengers to text from 35,000 feet. Qantas is one of the first airlines to have such a program, although Ryanair and Emirates plan similar tests later this year. The three-month trial will determine if cell phone use aboard an aircraft is a "good idea." (Here's a hint: It's not.) Passengers will be allowed only to send text and e-mail messages; phone calls will not be permitted (phew!). Here's hoping Qantas will ban text alert messages, as a constant pinging sound in an enclosed space doesn't sound like a good time.
Qantas will select one Boeing 767 as the test aircraft for the three-month trial, which will apply only to domestic flights. Passengers won't know if they're on that particular plane until they board. If the trial is successful, and the airline determines that cell phones don't interfere with navigational and communications systems, Qantas may expand cell phone use to all its flights and aircraft. Calling may even be permitted at some point, but let's just hope that's never the case.