The European Aviation Safety Agency has opened the way for passengers to use portable electronics and cellphones at any time on aircraft.
Under new guidelines issued Friday, Europe’s airlines can allow passengers to use their electronics or their cellphones during the entire flight. The rule applies anywhere in European airspace, no matter where the flight originated.
- Ottawa to allow air passengers to use electronic devices on takeoff, landing
- Airplane electronic device restrictions lifted in U.S.
There is no longer any necessity to keep devices in airplane mode, which disables wifi access.
Book readers, tablet computers, mp3 players and other devices would all be permitted.
"We're basically opening the door where, in theory, you'll be able to continue making your phone call through the gate throughout the flight ... like you would on a train," said EASA spokesman Ilias Maragakis.
Airlines will be left with the dilemma of how to prevent chatterboxes from gabbing throughout an entire flight, potentially annoying anyone within hearing range.
In trains, there is now frequently a “silent” car where talking on phones is prohibited.
At high altitudes, there is not likely to be a cell phone signal, but airlines might be able to provide that service to customers, for a price.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration last year lifted its own restrictions on the use of most personal electronic devices during takeoffs and landings last October but said devices must be kept in “airplane mode.”
Canada followed suit this spring.
In Canada, cellphones and smartphones, which are transmitting devices, can only be used in normal mode during the taxi-in phase, when plane heads in toward the gate. If on flight mode, the phones can also be used throughout all flight phases.