The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has decided that mobile phones are completely safe to use in-flight, including during take-off and landing.
Previous rules required passengers to either switch off phones, or flip them into airplane mode. The EASA's latest decision does not mean that there is an automatic right of mobile use afforded to fliers, but airlines now have the option to permit handset use on their flights. So if you've splashed out on an iPhone 6, bendy or otherwise, you can show it off to your fellow fliers.
While airplane mode blocks the ability to send and receive calls and messages, many passengers have found that they are asked to switch off entirely and refrain from using their handset in any way. The new ruling will arm passengers with more ammunition if they want to argue their case, but it's likely that many European flights will quickly bow to popular demand and permit the use of phones.
Investigations by the EASA found that there is no reason to prevent the use of phones, tablets and other PEDs (personal electronic devices), but individual airlines will undoubtedly want to carry out their own checks. The decision is described by the EASA as "the latest regulatory step towards enabling the ability to offer ‘gate-to-gate’ telecommunication or WiFi services".
An information page about the use of PEDs reiterates that airlines have the final say, and provides the following advice:
- If you are unsure on the use of PEDs, you may check the airline’s website prior to the flight.
- Be reminded that the safety briefing provided by the airline crew is for your benefit. Please pay attention and listen carefully.
- Airline crew may request at any time to switch-off all PEDs and to stow them.
- Passengers have always to follow airline crew instructions as safety is the responsibility of everyone on board the aircraft.