back to article Mobile phones to save airlines, by exposing passengers

Airline travel is set to get even more unpleasant, as hapless airline passengers face being hounded through airports by online advertisers as well as security, customs and perfume touting duty free sales staff. The airline industry could save $600m a year by tracking passengers through airports and punting ads to their mobiles …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Problem solved

    So, instead of turning off my mobile phone when entering the plane, I just turn it off, before entering the airport??

    (Only a problem, if I'm dumb enough, to accept the damn messages in the first place)

    Paris, cause hopefully she'll be the only one with a constantly beeping mobile, in the airport.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    .... for those that don't have a mobile phone??

  3. Anonymous Coward


    surely (re the whole Phorm thing), people should not have to 'opt out' but should be asked to 'opt in'. What's the betting that to say 'No' you have to text a £5/message premium rate number which will obviously ask you to send a second, confirmation SMS ?

    Airlines should be paying US to send adverts to our mobiles.

    Pirates obviously steal our money and freedom

  4. Anonymous Coward

    "punters hanging around Manchester Airport spent 45 per cent more"

    than they would have done if they'd have bought the goods elsewhere.

    It's lock-in, and it shouldn't be allowed. Lock in the passengers to an area where you *have* to sit around for two/three hours and wait, and you're bound to want to spend some of that currency just to alleviate boredom.

    Track *my* mobile? No thanks.

    Mine's the one with the <100ml bottle of water in the pocket.

  5. jubtastic1


    So upon entering the airport I'll get a message to the effect of "Welcome to hell, reply to this message with NO or we'll bombard you with adverts"? because that would imply that I had to spend time/money to opt out, which sounds like it'd fall foul of anti spam legislation.

    As an opt in service this has FAIL written all over it, the very idea that marketing wonks would resist the temptation to pretty much stream ads at the poor punter that agreed to it is ludicrous, these poor saps could be recognised the the Airport on account of them going 'bing' every other step.

  6. Pete Silver badge

    bring it on

    Hands up anyone who actually sees the promotional email from sites they register with? Once you've got the freebee they used as bait, why clog up your life with more meaningless spam.

    Given that disposable email addresses are so common, if not yet ubiquitous, how about the same thing for mobiles. Most of the telcos will send you free SIMs in the desperate hope that you'll forego your existing provider and sign up with them. Just slip one of these into your mobi at the airport. Give the number to the nice person behind the check-in desk (or when you booked online), take your discount, and toss the SIM in the bin just before you board.

    Just remember which SIM is your primary - the security people have a dim view of bin diving at airports.

  7. Rich Silver badge


    Air travel is indeed getting very unpleasant in lots of ways.

    It was never "nice", but these days, customer service is akin to that of a mobile phone company, the final cost of the flight bears no resemblance whatsoever to the advertised price, we get charged extra for checking in (WTF???), for being so bold as to take baggage aboard. The airports themselves have ripped everyone off for years with their "duty free" offerings (I'll never understand how booze or fags which have 70% (or whatever) duty imposed on them STILL cost 90% of the high street price at the "duty free" shop!!!), and NOW they want to bombard us all wish crap on our mobiles!

    And is the "if you don't say we can't then we will track you" policy actually legal?

    I'm with a previous poster - I'll turn my phone off when I get to the airport.

  8. W
    Black Helicopters

    opt IN

    "At present customers receive an SMS asking them if they're OK with the idea, and if they don’t say no then the third party (in this case the airport) gains access to instant information about the location of the phone, and hence that of the user."

    Er, no. Make it opt in or the phone gets turned off. That's if I even get as far as the hellish Prison / Shopping Centres hybrids (good analogy btw, El Reg).

    So on the one had we're suggesting people should check in by mobile phone, but on the other, we're being told that airports are to be the front line of the id card implenentation.

    Quite apart from the failed history of "your mobile will be able to do XYZ" ventures, what's the betting that it'd be a half arsed measure anyway. A la swish and handy credit-card sized photo driving licenses that are only valid when acompanied by a sheet of A4 that couldn't possibly be faked. Because forging a text-only paper counterpart is a real dog once I've faked a laminated, watermarked, photocard.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    <no title>

    Once again it is a case of, "jump when I say", if you want to retain rights that are supposed to be yours in the first place. But of course the scheme falls flat on its face if an individuals rights are actually respected.

    Hey: can I send folk a text saying, "respond with a no if you don't want your house burgled", and then expect to be ok to break in if they didn't respond ?

  10. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    I can see...

    ... profits for Cruise Line companies going up...!

  11. Chris Richards

    oh great...

    So if I turned my phone off on the way into the airport so I could avoid any work contact while I sat reading my book I'd just be bombarded with these texts on the other side of the world where I get charged for the pleasure of receiving them.

    This is surely going to increase the number of cases of air-rage! I for one would be a lot closer to smacking the gormless assistant in whsmiths (who may be, or may not be, seconds away from writing their next piece of terrible yet terrifyingly extremist prose).

  12. Anonymous Coward

    More simple solution

    Emigrate to Australia.

    I'm planning on it.

  13. Law

    RE: bring it on

    "Just slip one of these into your mobi at the airport."

    Yeah - I can see it now!!

    phone: beep beep, beep beep

    phoneuser: oh yeah - almost forgot *pulls out chip, takes back of battery*

    airport: ALARM ALARM ALARM

    armedpolice: He's obviously about to detonate something - it's a go for kill!! *bang*

    phoneuser: *falls limply in a pool of blood*

    Mines the one with the phone switched off, better just double check! :)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Temp phone numbers

    In case anyone does not already know - there is a service which is designed to keep your mobile number private: suggested uses are blind dates and employment agencies. Now added, air travel.

    This plan does seem to be aimed at the business traveller who just has to have their phone on all the time.

    HeHe - next time you travel, leave the phone that receives the messages with whoever drives you to the airport. I wonder how far it will track you once the phone leaves the airport.

  15. TMS9900
    Thumb Down


    What with councils snooping your mobile phone records each time your bin is overfilled, and now this, it strikes me that the disadvantages of owning a mobile phone are starting to out-weigh the advantages.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Save $600m ?

    >> The airline industry could save $600m a year by tracking passengers through airports

    >> and punting ads to their mobiles, along with their tickets and boarding passes, according

    >> to a report from airline industry tech supplier SITA.

    How can the airport save money by spamming customers mobile phones? Are they currently using a more expensive method of spamming customers?

    Paris, because I think she best represents my confusion.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    @ AC

    "Mine's the one with the <100ml bottle of water in the pocket."

    You limit yourself to that - I simply take a 3L bag, no airport managed to spot it, it's not bottle shaped therefore it's safe.

    Of course 3L of explosive can put a slightly bigger hole in the aircraft, and that kills everyone just a little bit more than a 1 litre bomb from combining 5 friends 100ml bottles.

    Oh, why am I AC today?

  18. steogede

    Re: Temp Phone Numbers

    The best thing is that the cost of the temporary number is passed onto caller, in this case the spammer.

  19. Adrien DuPreez

    Just a ploy to have less active phones around the airport

    I'd say this is just a ploy from the operators to reclaim some bandwidth around airports. Traditionally airports have one of the highest cellphone/sq.mile concentrations; if one can annoy half of the travellers into switching off their phones voluntarily, the number of base stations can be halved. Nice saving.

    Mine's the one with the antique pager in the pocket.

  20. Herby
    Black Helicopters

    Why not...

    Just have an RFID brain implant and get it over with!

    That's what it is coming to anyway! (*SIGH*)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    A better solution for the late boarders...

    ...would be to tot up the number of minutes delay multiplied by the number of passengers affected and stick the offenders in a holding cell at the destination for that duration. You really, really wouldn't want to be the one responsible for a full 747 flight missing it's take-off slot.

    Paris because for some reason 'take-off' and 'slot' don't quite suggest any of the others!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "a 1 litre bomb from combining 5 friends 100ml bottles. Oh, why am I AC today?"

    Because you can't add up? Or did they have one in each pocket? Anyway, an empty litre bottle in your carry-on seems to go through OK and you can fill it up at the water fountain once in the departure lounge. No more dangerous than buying one the other side, seeing as it's easy to empty that and fill it from the water fountain just the same.

  23. andy
    Thumb Down

    @Chris Richards

    -- "So if I turned my phone off on the way into the airport so I could avoid any work contact while I sat reading my book I'd just be bombarded with these texts on the other side of the world where I get charged for the pleasure of receiving them."

    Chris, if you turned your phone off on the way to the airport your phone wouldnt be detected IN the airport and registered as a phone to deploy Ads to, thus you wouldnt be bombarded with texts on the other side of the world.

  24. Tony

    0871 Number

    I already have my 0871 number dverting to my mobile for corporations that refuse to give me a landline number. All airports and airlines are welcome to use this number too. They have to pay over the top to call me, and I make pennies per minute! Of course an even bigger benefit is that they can't spam me with texts.

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