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Passengers reject in-flight mobile use

Friday, October 3rd 2014 by Hannah Langston

Air travellers would prefer not to make voice calls during flights, despite the relaxation of rules on the use of mobile devices during a flight.

This week, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) authorised airlines to permit calls and the sending and receiving of texts and data. Previously passengers could only use their device before and after take-off and only in ‘flight mode’, which disables all connections.

However, the International Airline Passengers Association (IAPA) and the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) both said their members opposed the idea of using mobile phones for calls during flights.

A spokesperson for IAPA told Cable.co.uk: “Members have opposed passengers using mobile phones to make calls in flight, basically from a courtesy/comfort standpoint.

“We have not been made aware of any large scale complaints or incidents, but the perception remains that calls could be disruptive.”

A GBTA spokesperson told us: “We speak on behalf of the business travel industry as a survey of our US members showed 97% are against this. Sometimes silence is golden.”

A survey of several major airlines showed differing approaches to the in-flight use of mobile devices.

A British Airways spokesperson told us: “We have led the way in the adoption of the use of personal electronic devices during flight. We have allowed their use on-board, with certain restrictions since December last year. We will be reviewing our current policies in the light of this change in advice.”

“We already allow the use of voice calls after landing. We have no plans to permit the use of mobile phones for voice calls on our flights as our feedback from customers has shown the majority of them find them an intrusion and disruptive.”

Lufthansa Group spokesperson Michael Lamberty, said the group’s airlines, including Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and SWISS, had a similar approach: “Mobile usage has been permitted on all our long-haul aircraft for quite some time as they are equipped with Lufthansa FlyNet – the broadband internet service.

“But telephony on board (also via Skype) is not permitted and there are no plans to change this as the vast majority asks us not to allow this. If there is a need to place a call every long haul aircraft is equipped with several satellite phones.”

In the UK, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is responsible for enforcing EASA regulations. CAA spokesperson Jonathan Nicholson said the change in regulation had been brought about by “more research and more advanced aeroplanes”.

“We are now content that you can treat mobile phones on an aircraft as you do on a train, there’s no difference.

“The regulation is there but the decision is down to the airlines on whether to allow passengers to make calls,” he added.

UK airlines wishing you to take advantage of the new regulations will have to test how personal devices interact with their own aircraft and then submit the test results to the CAA for approval.

Meanwhile, airlines in the US were this week ordered to replace cockpit display units in hundred of Boeing jets after tests by the air safety regulator indicated that mobile phone and computer signals could cause the screens to go blank.

The Federal Aviation Administration has told airlines the equipment must be replaced or modified within five years. However, Honeywell - the displays' manufacturer - has stressed that the problem has not been experienced in-flight.

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