Boing Boing partner John Battelle was on a WiFi-enabled flight last night, and wanted to say bedtime-goodnight to his kids using videochat. Lots of parents tuck their kids into bed over video when they're far from home. What gentler, more loving example of the power of the internet could there be? Nope. A United Airlines flight attendant told John that this was prohibited because terrorists could use this to coordinate attacks.
So what's a curious guy to do? To the Internet! Which is exactly what I did. Responses starting pouring in. Including one from a pal at the State Department, who echoed my basic goal: To use video chat to tuck my kids into bed isn't a crime. Or at least, shouldn't be.
The flight attendant just showed me the United policy manual which prohibits "two way devices" from communicating with the ground. However, the PLANE HAS WIFI. To combat this, not unlike China, United and other airlines have blocked Skype and other known video chat offenders. Apparently, they missed Apple iChat. Oops.
An FAA guidebook says inflight video chat is to be discouraged because it can be annoying to seatmates, but that's very different than banning something because it's a terrorist weapon.
Read: Video Chat on the plane illegal? (battellemedia.com)