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The Traveller's Magazine
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Mobile phones have been banned from planes since the 1990s. Even calling them “mobile” phones was a bit of a funny idea (remember how big they were?!). The general idea was that mobile phone signals would interfere with the pilot’s instruments, which could cause an accident. Myth or truth?

The whole “mobile phone use on planes” topic has made its way back into the news and into online forums lately because we still aren’t convinced they cause accidents and why must we turn off our devices if we really don’t have to?

The latest study was done by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2006 and it could not prove that mobile phone usable causes accidents or even interfered at all with pilot instruments. It also couldn’t prove that mobile phones did not lead to accidents so the ban was kept in place.

Until recently.

Late in 2013, the FAA announced it would “allow airlines to expand the use of personal electronics in-flight.” Which pretty much meant that airlines could make up their own rules concerning how their passengers can use their mobile phones, iPads, and those types of things, in-flight.

Airline rules and regulations for mobile phone use

Aer Lingus – use is permitted on its entire long-haul fleet of A330s

Air France – mobile phones are on one Boeing B777-300 (from Paris)

British Airways – use is permitted on its Club World London City – JFK flights

Emirates Airlines – use is permitted on all A330s and A340s as well as some Boeing 777s

Lufthansa – currently being installed on the airline’s entire long-haul fleet

Qantas – available on all A380s, B747-400s and A330-300s

Virgin Atlantic – permitted on all flights from London Gatwick Airport and selected flights from Manchester and London Heathrow

Best tips for using your mobile phone on your next flight?

  1. Ask your steward before you try to make a call if it’s permitted.
  2. Make sure your conversation is short so that it doesn’t disturb your neighbours.
  3. Remember, you will be charged roaming fees for those texts and calls!

Travel Myth Buster is a recurring series on the Traveller’s Blog. We debunk popular travel myths like flying with fresh fillings to the best time to book flights. Check out more travel myth busters on the Traveller’s Blog!

Imgs: samchurchill / Flickr cc.

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