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1337Delta764
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GTE/Verizon Airfone Handsets With Card Slot Latch

Thu Sep 12, 2013 4:04 am

I am pretty sure that everyone here remembers those old GTE/Verizon Airfone handsets onboard airlines (and perhaps its competitor AT&T Wireless Claircom on some aircraft). Verizon discontinued Airfone service on commercial airlines in 2006, and most airlines have now removed the handsets from their planes.

However, I remember noticing something different on some of the Airfone handsets on older planes: the handsets were released by inserting a credit card into a vertical slot. I remember seeing that version on DL's 727s and L-1011s; the 757s and 767s all had the newer version with the release buttons.

I was wondering, on the version that had the credit card slot latches, was that slot also used for payment? I know the version with the push button latches had a credit card swipe reader on the side of the phone for payment, however, I am not sure about the version with credit card slot latches. If the slot was simply for releasing the handset, I presume you were able to insert something other than a credit card to release the handset.
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JHwk
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RE: GTE/Verizon Airfone Handsets With Card Slot Latch

Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:06 am

No, not for payment. They all had the slide card reader in the handset itself.
 
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1337Delta764
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RE: GTE/Verizon Airfone Handsets With Card Slot Latch

Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:09 am

Quoting JHwk (Reply 1):
No, not for payment. They all had the slide card reader in the handset itself.

So, you were able to release the handset by inserting any credit card sized object into the slot, is that correct? I wonder what caused GTE to switch to the push button latches.

Also, another interesting observation that I remember: most Airfone handsets I remember had green backlighting on the display, however, I remember seeing a few with amber backlighting (on the same plane as the ones with the green). Was the amber version newer?

[Edited 2013-09-12 21:13:06]
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JHwk
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RE: GTE/Verizon Airfone Handsets With Card Slot Latch

Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:54 pm

I think the phones ended up being used for a few things other than telephone, which might have been part of the reason for the change in release mechanism. Also possible that people weren't sure if they would be charged by sticking their credit card in.

I also imagine that the system never generated sufficient income to warrant any real upgrades, so they just patched it to keep it running as best they could.
 
Chese
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RE: GTE/Verizon Airfone Handsets With Card Slot Latch

Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:35 pm

Fortunately the airfone system is finally going to die at the end of this year. Thank God.
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1337Delta764
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RE: GTE/Verizon Airfone Handsets With Card Slot Latch

Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:46 pm

Quoting Chese (Reply 4):
Fortunately the airfone system is finally going to die at the end of this year. Thank God.

The Airfone service onboard commercial airlines was actually discontinued in 2006; since 2006 the service has been offered exclusively for business aircraft (which will be discontinued this year).

[Edited 2013-09-16 15:48:49]
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RE: GTE/Verizon Airfone Handsets With Card Slot Latch

Tue Sep 17, 2013 5:35 am

Was on UAL B777's this past week...both aircraft (r/t) still had them installed.

Hadn't seen one of those phones in a long time
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