Thursday, March 11, 2010

Can You Video Chat On a Plane?

From John Battelle's Searchblog: Video Chat on the Plane? Illegal? OK? Legal Gray Area?
... my kids can now gather around any one of our home computers, fire up iChat, and BAM! they can see me even as I zip across the Nebraska sky at some 400+ mph.

Except tonight, as I was chatting with my lovely wife and two lovely daughters (much to the amusement of my seat mates, using Bose headphones and my MacBook's built in microphone), the very nice steward - who I must note brought me extra nuts even though he didn't have to - told me I had to quit my video chat.

"Security. Cameras not allowed!" was the response. There was clearly no argument.

I protested, but not too loudly. I don't want to end up stripped searched in a cold basement cell below SFO, after all. I told my family I had to quit the video chat.

I've written about video chat on a plane before, but this is the first I've heard of someone being told to stop. Granted, you want to be a polite passenger and listen more than talk (see the FAA memo about blocking Skype conversations) but seems like if you're not bothering anyone it should be OK. Anyone have a similar experience?


Ian said...

They're forgetting one thing: functional equivalency. Deaf Video Relay Service (VRS) offers point-to-point video calls as well as ASL video to hearing calls, and is FCC funded through the universal services fee that everyone pays on their telephone bill.

Here's a video of a deaf VRS call from a videophone client on a PC while in flight:

Between the ZVRS Z4, Purple P3, iChat, and various other soft videophone clients, rest assured that deaf video relay service and point-to-point video calls _are_ being made while planes are in the air.

The real question here is who is going to deny a high-profile deaf passenger the ability to make an in-flight call...

Anonymous said...

I would love to try and see what happens but my Google Desktop client doesn't support video.... or conference calls.....

i621148 said...

"This is not an FAA restriction; they are simply responding to the overwhelming majority of their customers, who prefer silent communications to the public nature of Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) calls."

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